Northern Ireland news

Gerry Adams tells St Patrick's Day event in Washington that 'direct rule is not an option'

Gerry Adams at a 'Friends of Ireland' lunch at the Capitol Building in Washington, USA yesterday. Picture by Niall Carson, Press Association

SINN Féin president Gerry Adams has told a St Patrick's Day event in Washington that "direct rule is not an option".

The Louth TD, who is on a two-day visit to the United States alongside deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, was speaking at a meeting with the Congressional Friends of Ireland on Capitol Hill.

Mr Adams briefed congressional leaders on the outcome of the recent Stormont Assembly election, negotiations currently taking place and the threat posed by Brexit.

He said the "election result has transformed the political landscape".

"Sinn Féin's focus is on reaching agreement on the restoration of the political institutions," he said.

"But it cannot be on the same basis as before. That is why the current talks are for us about the implementation of agreements previously made.

"It has been suggested that British direct rule could be imposed if there is no agreement. This would be an enormous act of bad faith by London and a reversal of the joint position set out by the two governments in 2006."

His comments came as the DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson said there would be no government here if Sinn Féin continued with demands for Arlene Foster to step aside for the RHI inquiry adding that "direct rule will follow".

"If we can get a broad measure of agreement on all of the other issues, Sinn Féin will relent on this demand which we believe is an unreasonable demand," he told the BBC's Nolan Show.

Asked what would happen if Sinn Féin does not relent on the demand, he said: "Then we are not going to get a government and then presumably an election or direct rule will follow".

Among other Northern Ireland politicians in the US are DUP MP Ian Paisley and Belfast mayor, the DUP's Brian Kingston, as well as the UUP's Jeffrey Dudgeon.

Mr Paisley attended the Ireland Funds America gala dinner, commenting he was hopeful the political parties could get "the show back on the road" at Stormont.

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