Sinn Féin chief says Theresa May is 'facilitating the DUP' in stalling Northern Ireland talks

Posted On: 
22nd February 2018

The president of Sinn Féin has accused Theresa May of helping the DUP to slow down negotiations over forming a new executive in Northern Ireland.

Mary Lou McDonald speaking to the BBC yesterday
BBC News

The province has been without a government since January of last year, when then Sinn Féin deputy first minister Martin McGuinness withdrew from the Government in protest at the DUP's handling of a renewable energy scheme. 

Talks last week had shown signs of progress, only for DUP leader Arlene Foster to pull out of negotiations, citing an impasse over proposals for a new Irish language act. 

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Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald suggested yesterday that the Prime Minister may be taking the side of Ms Foster's party because of her electoral pact with them.

Speaking after a meeting with Mrs May in Downing St, she told the BBC: "I don't know, I think she needs to be asked that. I did put it to her, was she soft-peddling matters because of the confidence-and-supply arrangement with the DUP.

"And I'd be misleading you if I said that that wasn't a concern, it is. And it's not just I that is concerned about that, it's a concern that is widely held across Irish politics.

"I believe, whether intentionally or not, Theresa May is actually facilitating the DUP blocking advancement and resolution on these core issues. That is my view, that is my assessment, that is my analysis and that is not the place where a leader in these circumstances ought to be...and particularly when you take account of some of the siren voices, and you've heard them now,"

At an earlier press conference outside Parliament, Ms McDonald hit out at the Government's handling of the situation, saying:

"We can only surmise from the meeting with the British prime minister that the Government here doesn't have a plan, doesn't have a viable plan for carving a pathway to the restoration of the institutions.

"We're disappointed that the Government seems wedded to what they're calling a reflection period. We regard the opening up of any political vacuum as extremely dangerous...

"We have tried to impress on both the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State that standing still is simply not an option."