Michelle O’Neill responds to British Secretary of State announcement
Responding to today’s announcement by the British Secretary of State, Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Michelle O’Neill said:
“The British Secretary of State has finally made some movement but only because she faced the imminent prospect of the courts ordering her to do so.
“The political process has been allowed to drift for far too long as a result of her government adopting a do nothing approach rather than confronting the denial of rights by the DUP.
“Faced with the prospect of a court-ordered election, Karen Bradley has now moved to suspend her powers to call an election as set out in the legislation. That is a retrograde step. Any attempt to move away from the Good Friday Agreement or towards Direct Rule will fail.
“Clearly, the British Government’s reliance on the DUP remains a central problem and if any process around restoring the institutions is to be credible, Karen Bradley must begin prioritising the rights of citizens over Tory Party self-interest.
“Departmental decisions have continued to be taken in the absence of the Executive but clearly, clarity is needed for officials and issues such as compensation for victims of Historical Institutional Abuse should not be caught up in legal or political quagmire. It should have been addressed long before now.
“Equally, the reduction in MLA pay should have been introduced months ago. Sinn Féin told Karen Bradley that on several occasions but it is clear she was reluctant to move because of resistance from the DUP. That position has now become untenable and it is right that wages are finally being reduced.
“The Dublin Government must also assert its full role as a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement and I have spoken to Tánaiste Simon Coveney today and I will be meeting with him in the coming days.
“We can all agree the need for a process to restore the political institutions but that process must address directly the core problem of the denial of rights and the two governments must show leadership in securing and defending rights which are routinely delivered by their governments everywhere else on these islands. There can be no ambivalence or equivocation on rights, equality and integrity.
“Consistent with the Good Friday Agreement and in the absence of rights-based institutions, the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference is the proper forum to ensure the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, to resolve the issue of rights and to address the oversight of the political process.”