Anti-equality axis must not be allowed to block progress - Kearney
Sinn Féin National Chairperson Declan Kearney has stated that those who deny equality and rights for citizens can not be allowed to block political progress in the north.
Mr Kearney said:
“An equality ‘revolution’ in the north of Ireland has been bubbling just below the surface for some time now.
"In the past few months its popular dynamic has become central to the political process.
"This is a direct response to the political corruption of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) and frustrated hope in the political process; financial scandals culminating in the RHI tipping point; DUP political arrogance towards republicans, nationalists and especially the Irish language; as well as the ambition of the Marriage Equality Referendum in the south.
"The absence and denial of respect, equality and integrity within the political institutions, and towards wider society by the DUP has become a lightning rod for change.
"Sinn Féin contested the Assembly election on 2nd March on a platform that we would not return to the status quo of political corruption and arrogance which undermined the political institutions and forced Martin McGuinness to resign as Joint First Minister.
"Our position has not changed.
"The mandate given to progressive parties has brought about a realignment of politics in the north.
"The greater majority of the electorate voted for change and the unionist political majority in the Assembly was ended.
"Three weeks after the election the Stormont talks ran out of road because neither the British Government nor the DUP engaged seriously on any subject, including legacy.
"Now five weeks after the 2nd March election no progress has been made in the talks.
"With the benefit of hindsight it is probable the two governments deliberately staged those three weeks of aimless talks in an attempt to take the ‘sting’ out of the election; dampen down public anger; and spook the parties into acquiescing to a later ‘agreement’ at any price.
"Currently a familiar routine is shaping up half way through this two week talks phase.
"This talks phase will only be successful if all participants get onto the same page and recognise our collective focus must be on delivering the equality agenda.
"Equality and rights are not up for negotiation. These belong to everyone and are the foundation of a truly shared future. This is not about orange and green, or contested constitutional aspirations. None of us have anything to fear from equality.
"As a matter of urgency the Irish Government needs to stop behaving as a junior partner to the British Government and to step up to the plate and publicly support progressive equality positions.
"There will be no return to the status quo.
"Restoration of public confidence in the political process, reestablishment of the political institutions; and future stability now depends upon implementation of the agreements, equality and respect for all in society and adherence to the GFA.
"That position is non-negotiable.
"If a step change is not adopted by the British government and the DUP towards the current talks within the next eight days there is only one option; another election should be called.”