EXCL Michelle O'Neill: Tory-DUP pact to blame for Stormont deadlock
Theresa May "prioritised her own electoral survival" over the future of the Northern Ireland peace process when she agreed a pact between the Conservatives and the DUP, according to Michelle O'Neill.
In explosive comments, Sinn Fein's leader in Northern Ireland said the failure to restore power-sharing at Stormont was "a direct consequence of the Tory-DUP deal".
Ms O'Neill also suggested that the Northern Ireland Assembly is unlikely to get back up an running for as long as the confidence and supply arrangement remains in place.
Power-sharing in the province collapsed in January after then Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness quit over the so-called "cash for ash" scandal engulfing DUP boss Arlene Foster.
Assembly elections in March failed to resolve the impasse, while extensive negotiations between the two parties, Westminster and the Irish government have also ended in failure.
Writing for The House magazine, Ms O'Neill painted a gloomy picture of the prospects of a deal
She said: "The failure to restore the power-sharing administration in Belfast is a direct consequence of the Tory-DUP deal to prop up Theresa May’s government.
"It undermined the entire talks process and shattered any remaining pretence of British government impartiality. Negotiations on that basis cannot deliver a sustainable deal and it should come as no surprise that the talks ended without agreement last week."
She added: "Rather than act with rigorous impartiality as the Good Friday Agreement compelled them to, the British Government instead provided cover for the DUP’s refusal to deliver equality and honour their commitments.
"Through her pact with the DUP, Theresa May prioritised her own electoral survival over the interests of the people in the North.
"But the peace and political processes in Ireland are too valuable to be used as a pawn in the internal wranglings of the Tory party and Theresa May should reflect carefully about her next steps."
In an interview with The House, DUP leader Arlene Foster admitted there had been a "hardening of attitudes" between the unionist and nationalist communities in Northern Ireland.
But she insisted that Theresa May had not been biased in her dealings with both parties.
"Despite the fact that we have a confidence and supply arrangement with the Conservative party, they have – in terms of the Northern Ireland Office – gone out of their way to be neutral in their dealings here in Northern Ireland," she said. "Even though some would say otherwise, that has absolutely been the case and I think it has been shown to be the case."
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