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Sinn Féin says 'credible' talks needed to resurrect powersharing

Mary Lou McDonald has called for "credible" talks to restore power-sharing. Picture by Liam McBurney, Press Association
Michelle Devane, Press Association

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has called for "credible" political talks to restore powersharing in Northern Ireland.

Ms McDonald said the talks collapsed earlier this year after the DUP leadership "walked away from the deal that they had agreed".

Negotiations between Sinn Féin and the DUP, aimed at resurrecting devolved government at Stormont, ended without agreement in February.

It is now more than 590 days since there was a fully functioning Assembly.

Last week, Northern Ireland surpassed a record set by Belgium for the longest period without an operational government in peacetime.

The party president told a meeting of elected representatives in Co Cavan today that the issues that led to the failure of the talks had not gone away.

Security guards lock the gates outside Parliament Buildings at Stormont

Ms McDonald said: "Rights and respect are not orange or green issues.

"The rights afforded to citizens in the rest of Ireland and in Britain should be recognised in the north.

"The right to marriage equality, to healthcare for women, to the protections of a language act and to access to an inquest."

Ms McDonald said the solution to the impasse was clear, and that a "real powersharing partnership" needed to be entered into.

"The do-nothing British Government have supported the undermining of their own agreements and the rights of citizens," she said.

The Sinn Féin leader said she welcomed that the two governments were planning for a further round of talks to be held in the autumn.

"We are up for talks and agreement, but any talks must be credible," Ms McDonald said.

"We cannot have talks for the sake of talking. It must be about delivery."

Ms McDonald added: "If the DUP can't or won't deliver, the two governments must make clear their intention to press ahead with the full implementation of the agreements and the extension of rights to the north that are available in the rest of Ireland.

"The British government know the position of the majority of political parties and MLAs on Brexit, the Alliance, the SDLP, the Greens and ourselves. They know what the people of the north think. They voted to remain and that should be respected."

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