Sinn Fein in last-ditch bid to revive powersharing

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Sinn Fein has made a last ditch appeal for their powersharing partners to get back into government in Northern Ireland.

Mary Lou McDonald urged the Democractic Unionists (DUP) to reconsider its position on proposals to end the 13 month political stalemate at Stormont.

Speaking ahead of a meeting in Dublin, Ms McDonald said: “Our appeal to the DUP is fairly straightforward. We had a draft agreement. We have a draft agreement. I would appeal to the DUP at this juncture to reconsider their position. Come back and talk to us and get that over the line.

“But I would also say to the DUP if that’s not a runner, and I suspect at this moment it is not, we are not standing still.

“The show must go on and we have to move forward.”

Negotiations between the region’s two biggest parties were reportedly at a critical stage when DUP leader Arlene Foster effectively pulled the plug on Wednesday.

The DUP leader called on the UK government to set a budget and start making policy decisions for Northern Ireland.

However, Sinn Fein has insisted direct rule from Westminster is not an option.

“Direct rule would be entirely unacceptable to us, unacceptable to nationalist opinion across the country, particularly in the north and if anybody thinks or thought that by crashing this process they would return to the bosom of direct rule. They got it wrong,” Ms McDonald said.

Vexatious issues such Irish language rights, marriage equality and how to deal with the legacy of Northern Ireland’s troubled must now be tackled by both British and Irish governments, she added.

The republican party leadership is expected to meet with the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Prime Minister Theresa May to discuss the way forward in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein’s Stormont leader Michelle O’Neill was also in Dublin for the meeting.

She said: “In any negotiation there has to be give and take. There were a number of issues which vexed the DUP and there were a number of issues which vexed ourselves.

“We had on the table a draft agreement, an accommodation whatever, way you want to describe it, we are crystal clear, what we had was a way forward and the DUP leadership failed to back that way forward.”

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