‘Intergovernmental conference is a welcome, if belated step’ - O’Neill
Confirmation that the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference is to meet next month must be used by the two Governments as an opportunity to pave the way for the restoration of the power-sharing institutions, Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Michelle O’Neill has said.
Commenting after the Irish and British governments agreed to convene the body on July 25, the Sinn Féin Vice President described the move as a ‘welcome, if belated step’.
She commented: “Sinn Féin has been calling for the British Irish Governmental Conference to be convened ever since the DUP walked away from the draft agreement and collapsed the talks process in February.
“The Good Friday Agreement is clear that, in the absence of the power-sharing institutions, this conference is the only vehicle for both Governments under their joint stewardship to resolve the issues at the heart of the crisis and pave the way for a restoration of the Executive and Assembly.“An opportunity to do that has now been opened up so today’s announcement is a welcome, if belated step.“It cannot be a one-day wonder or a device to do nothing.
“Sinn Féin have been pushing for a step-change in the British Government’s approach. To date, their involvement in the process has been characterised by a failure to confront the DUP’s refusal to share power on the basis of equal treatment for all citizens.
“Nevertheless, we acknowledge today’s announcement and Downing Street’s recent statement committing to the Good Friday Agreement and resolving the barriers to power sharing.
“We hope this signals a change in approach from the British Government and we intend to hold them firmly to their commitments.”