Peaceful marching season 'bodes well' for power-sharing talks, says Michelle O'Neill

Sinn Féin's northern leader Michelle O'Neill has said that a peaceful marching season "bodes well" for the talks to restore power-sharing. Picture by Mal McCann

A PEACEFUL marching season "bodes well" for the negotiations to restore power-sharing, Sinn Féin's northern leader Michelle O'Neill has said.

Ms O'Neill added that she was "very disappointed to say the least" that unionist politicians had failed to criticise "rogue bonfires with effigies, with things which have been absolutely disgraceful and wouldn't be tolerated anywhere and shouldn't be tolerated in the north", however.

Speaking in Dublin, Ms O'Neill said: "With the week that has been in it, I welcome that the marching season and the 12th of July has passed relatively peacefully...which bodes well to create the right atmosphere for the talks process.

"However, sectarian and racist displays at bonfires and the failure of unionist leaders to challenge this demonstrates the distance yet to be travelled.

"We can't have actions like this that 'sectarianise', that promote hate, that promote distance right across our communities."

Sinn Féin's northern leader added: "We all should encourage culture and celebrate our culture, Orangeism is a big part of that culture, but it has to be done in a respectful way."

The Executive collapsed in January following the resignation of former deputy first minister Martin McGuinness, and there has been no agreement in the six months since.

While the talks have now been suspended for the summer, Ms O'Neill said that Sinn Féin had "teams of people ready to engage".

"Sinn Féin remains fully committed to engaging the other parties. I have contacted the party leaders to say that we have teams of people ready to engage and crunch the issues that need to be resolved."

She added: "Sinn Féin remain fully committed to restoring the power-sharing institutions, to forming an executive with all parties as agreed in the Good Friday Agreement."

Ms O'Neill also attacked the DUP-Conservative deal, claiming that part of the reason for the political impasse is that the "DUP has been pandered to by the British government for the last ten years".

"It doesn't bode well for the rigorous impartiality which the British government is supposed to display," she added.

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