NIO responds to DUP call to end ‘sham’ talks process

The NIO says it remains committed to getting power-sharing restored at Stormont. Credit: Presseye

The Northern Ireland Office has again said it is determined to find an agreement to restore power-sharing, in response to a call from the DUP’s Sammy Wilson to end the “sham” process.

The NI Assembly has not been up and running since March amid the political impasse.

Previous lengthy negotiations have failed to reach a solution, with talks parked over the summer.

The DUP and Sinn Féin remain at odds on a number of issues, including Sinn Féin’s demand for an Irish language act and the DUP’s opposition to marriage equality.

DUP MP Sammy Wilson told the News Letter that Secretary of State James Brokenshire should move to implement direct rule from Westminster.

“The demands and red lines of Sinn Féin are so unrealistic that there is not going to be an agreement,” he said.

“Brokenshire is not naïve, but I wonder why he continues to be optimistic that a deal can be done. He needs to get real and understand Sinn Féin’s game."

While direct rule is not my preference, I believe the people of Northern Ireland will be better served by it at this time.

Sammy Wilson, DUP

However, a spokesman for the NIO responded by saying: “Northern Ireland needs devolved government, not direct rule, to ensure that effective public services are delivered to all.

“Responsibility remains with the parties to resolve their differences and to get back into an executive to achieve this.

“That is what is in the best interests of Northern Ireland and why it is the priority of the Secretary of State to restart political talks to achieve this outcome.”

Talks are due to resume at the start of September, but Sinn Féin’s Alex Maskey has questioned whether the DUP are serious about reaching an agreement.

“We in Sinn Féin believe a resolution to the current political breakdown is possible if the will is there from all parties, but the DUP leadership needs to clarify whether they are serious about an agreement or not, given this latest rant from Sammy Wilson,” he said.

“No resolution will not involve a return to direct rule.

“It has failed in the past and will fail again because the only democratic vehicle consistent with the Good Friday Agreement is equal partnership government based on parity of esteem and respect, which commands public confidence and can deliver public services, jobs and bring about a step change in a new political era.”