Patience wearing thin over DUP Stormont blockade – McDonald

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said patience was wearing thin with the DUP blockade of Stormont (Brian Lawless/PA)
Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said patience was wearing thin with the DUP blockade of Stormont (Brian Lawless/PA)

Patience is wearing thin with the DUP’s continued blockade of the Stormont powersharing institutions, Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald has said.

Ms McDonald also said she was concerned about reports of memos circulating suggesting “further foot dragging”.

She was responding after the Belfast Telegraph reported an internal memo from DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson stating that his party isn’t “fixated with timelines” and won’t be “calendar led” in its talks with the Government to reach a deal to restore Stormont.

DUP annual conference
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has reportedly said his party will not be fixated with timelines (Liam McBurney/PA)

The DUP has been blocking powersharing at Stormont for more than a year and a half in protest at the internal UK trade barriers created by Brexit’s Northern Ireland Protocol.

The unionist party has been involved in negotiations with the Government about the Windsor Framework, which reformed the protocol, and is seeking further assurances, by way of legislation, over Northern Ireland’s place in the UK internal market.

Speculation has been growing in recent weeks that the DUP could be closing in on an agreement with the Government, with Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris stating the talks are in their “final phase”.

However, in an internal message to his party at the weekend, reported in the Belfast Telegraph, Sir Jeffrey said: “While some are fixated with timelines, we are not calendar led.

“We are single-mindedly focused on our aims and objectives.

“We are determined to secure further progress.”

The DUP has been blocking the working of the powersharing institutions at Stormont (Liam McBurney/PA)

Ms McDonald told the BBC Good Morning Ulster programme that all parties should be working to a timetable to restore Stormont as soon as possible.

She said: “We are now 18 months, more in fact, since the Assembly election and the idea that this matter would drag on and on, the absence of an Executive, a functioning Assembly at a time where we face so many serious challenges, it is just not acceptable.

“I have a very strong sense … that public patience has now worn very, very thin.

“There is a timetable, there is an urgency about this.

“I hope and I am hopeful that the DUP will do the right thing and we will have now a speedy return of the institutions. That is what is in everybody’s interest, irrespective of your wider political view.”

Ms McDonald added:”The idea that there’s memos circulating suggesting that there can be further foot dragging, I think is very concerning.

“Let’s see progress now, let’s see positivity, a front-footed approach from all of us and that needs the DUP now shaping up, bringing pace to matters and getting back around the table with everybody else and getting the job done, getting work done on behalf of the people of the north.”