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Long term collapse of devolution in Northern Ireland fears sparked by Sinn Fein remarks

Sinn Féin Assembly candidate Pat Sheehan has said his party will not return to government unless agreements reached over three key issues are implemented.
Marie Louise McConville

COMMENTS by Sinn Féin Assembly candidate Pat Sheehan that the party will not return to government unless agreements reached on key issues are implemented "point to the long term collapse of devolution in Northern Ireland", it was claimed last night.

Addressing an event in west Belfast yesterday Mr Sheehan vowed Sinn Féin would not return to Stormont until agreements reached on the Irish language act, a bill of rights and legacy issues were delivered.

"We are not going to go back into the Executive until all...... There were three issues that have been agreed previously," he said.

"So you had the Irish language act, there was a thing called the bill of rights and there was another issue. An agreement to deal with the legacy of the conflict in regard to people who were killed during the conflict. We need to see those agreements implemented".

When asked if it was a promise that his party would not return to government unless the agreements were implemented, Mr Sheehan replied: "Yes. Unless the outstanding agreements are implemented."

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood last night said the "red lines drawn by both the DUP and Sinn Féin now point to the long term collapse of devolution in Northern Ireland.

"Two parties which refuse in absolute terms to compromise in government means that we will not have a government if those parties call the shots," he said.

"The foundations of devolution and peace are built on cooperation, compromise and a commitment to reconciliation. You cannot demand tolerance if all you offer is intransigence.

DUP Assembly candidate Gordon Lyons accused Sinn Féin of setting out "a new list of preconditions".

"It is clear for anyone to see that Sinn Féin have used the RHI scheme as an excuse for this election...The real motivation has always been to advance their own narrow agenda through the creation of a political crisis," he said.

When asked about Mr Sheehan's comments, a spokesman for Sinn Féin said the party was "not going in to re-negotiate issues that already have been agreed".

"There cannot be an endless cycle of renegotiation. This is about implementation," he said.

"The failure of the governments and the DUP to live up to their responsibilities has created this crisis. The way forward is through implementation of the agreements and restoring confidence in the political institutions. That is reasonable and deliverable".

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