Sinn Féin committed to restoration of institutions – Gerry Adams TD
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD speaking in the Dáil today in Statements on the North said that Sinn Féin “wants to see the institutions up and working for everyone.”
“In a situation in which the British Government acts as a drag on the negotiations, and fuels DUP negativity, the onus on the Irish government, as a co-equal guarantor to defend the integrity of the Good Friday Agreement is even greater than ever.”
Commenting on the talks process Gerry Adams said:
“Over the last three weeks I met many times with the DUP. However, it became clear very early on in the talks that the DUP was not up for implementing the accords that they had previously agreed with us and the two governments.
“It was equally clear that they were not prepared to move on other issues that they have consistently blocked…
“Regrettably the DUP’s approach throughout the talks was to engage in a minimalist way on all of these key issues. There was no substantive progress on any matter.
“A DUP proposal to introduce a so-called Culture Act is a case in point. This was to encompass the Irish Language; Ulster Scots and a British Armed Forces Covenant.
“The linking of the Irish language and Ulster Scots to the British Army was entirely
inappropriate. While Sinn Féin has no difficulty with supporting Ulster Scots – it has been a part of our culture for 400 years - what was and is required is a stand-alone Irish Language Act.
“What was on offer was a piece of meaningless legislation with no legislative authority, no strategy, no power, no funding, no teeth. This is unacceptable.
“During the talks the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan assured our team that he supported the need for a free standing Acht na Gaeilge.
“He also made the case privately and publicly at a lecture for Pat Finucane, that the British Government needed to fulfill is funding obligations on legacy, and especially the funding of legacy inquests.
“The DUP was reinforced in their stance by the British Government’s approach to the issues. For example, we know that on Brexit the British approach will subvert the human rights elements that are at the core of the Good Friday Agreement.
“On legacy the British Secretary of State James Brokenshire refuses to provide the funding requested by the Lord Chief Justice to allow for the outstanding legacy inquests to be held.
“And he is sticking rigidly to Britain’s intention to use the so-called ‘national security’ veto to block the provision of information to bereaved victim’s families seeking truth.
“Despite these very obvious gaps in our respective positions it is still my strong view that all of these issues can be sorted out. And that is Sinn Féin’s commitment.
“However, it is also my strong view that the Executive is not sustainable unless it is built on a strong foundation based on the adoption of basic and modest human rights and equality measures...
Nationalists are not prepared to tolerate a society in which Unionism dictates what rights we and others may or may not enjoy. No more second class status.
"It is also a mistake to think that the talks failed over an Irish Language Act. That was part of it but the main fault lies within the DUPs refusal to embrace an equality or a rights based future...
"On Sunday the full Sinn Féin negotiating team turned up at Castle Buildings to continue with one last effort. The two governments were present. The DUP did not turn up. Arlene Foster and Nigel Dodds had told us they had family business that day but not one member of their party turned up …
"While some DUP members won’t work on a Sunday we have met senior party leaders many times on a Sunday …
"When they were contacted by the British government, according to the British government, they were told the DUP would not be turning up unless there were new proposals from Sinn Féin."
"Sinn Féin is still in problem solving mode but we can’t do that alone.”
Commenting on James Brokenshire’s threat of a return to Direct Rule Gerry Adams said:
“On Tuesday the British Secretary of State, whose contribution has been less than helpful, told the British Parliament that the British government will 'consider all options' after Easter, including direct rule. This is not acceptable.
"Mr. Brokenshire has only one option and that is to call an election. There is no legal basis for any other course of action.
"And while parties may or may not want an election the fact is if the British Secretary of State brings in new legislation to restore Direct Rule that will be an act of enormous bad faith and a clear breach of an agreement between the Irish and British governments in 2006.
"Sinn Féin has no objection to the British Secretary of State leaving some time for further discussions to take place but we are totally opposed to, and we would look to the Irish government to oppose, any new legislation to bring back Direct Rule.”
The British government today trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. The Sinn Féin leader said:
“The social, economic and political implications of this for the island of Ireland, and for the relationship between our two islands, are enormous.
"While it would be better if the North was speaking through the Executive with one voice in opposition to Brexit the reality is that the DUP and UUP support the pro-Brexit position of the British Tory party and of UKIP.
Sinn Féin is working with all the other party leaders to agree as
united a position as possible and we are seeking a joint platform with
all of the parties on Brexit.
This is especially important given that the British Prime Minister has been dismissive of any meaningful involvement by the devolved administrations in the Brexit issue.”