Unionists need to prove they accept power sharing
Sinn Féin Vice President Pat Doherty has said that the DUP still have some distance to travel before they have persuaded any nationalist or republican that they are capable of respecting democratic mandates and genuinely sharing power.
Mr Doherty said:
"We have heard much from the DUP in recent months about their willingness to embrace power sharing and respect democratic structures. Yet their actions over many years send to nationalists and republicans a completely different signal.
"The DUP have continued to ignore the substantial Sinn Féin mandate and s eem to believe that those who vote for Sinn Féin are in some way second class. This is unacceptable. A Sinn Féin vote is equal to that of any other party including the DUP. Our electoral mandate is substantial and if the DUP are ever to do a deal or ever to share power then that will be with Sinn Féin.
"In local authorities which are controlled by the DUP or the DUP in association with other unionists, nationalists and republicans have been systematically excluded from top positions. In Lisburn, Ballymoney, Newtownabby, Ballymena, Coleraine and elsewhere unionists have operated local government structures in a similar fashion to the way they operated the old Stormont regime for over 50 years.
"Contrast this with Councils West of the Bann where nationalists and republicans hold majorities. Senior Council positions including Mayors and Chairs are rotated amongst all of the parties, including the DUP, as a matter of practice. The chairs and deputy chairs of committees are allocated in a similar fashion. Nationalists and republicans have no interest in operating discriminatory or anti-democratic practices. The experience of local government in the six counties is evidence of that.
"It is time for the DUP and indeed other unionists to demonstrate to the nationalist and the republican community that they are capable pf respecting the electorally expressed wishes of that community and are capable of implementing right across the board genuine power sharing arrangements. That would be one way of demonstrating that the unionist political establishment has accepted that the days of second class citizenship are over and that there simply won't be a return to the days of discrimination and unionist patronage. Sinn Féin and the community we represent simply will not accept it."ENDS