The Democratic Unionist Party cannot “go off on their summer holidays” without ending the crisis at Stormont, Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy has said.
He said it was unacceptable for the DUP to continue its 16-month boycott.
Mr Murphy was speaking after talks in Belfast with Tánaiste (Irish Deputy Prime Minister) Micheál Martin, aimed at getting Stormont working again.
Meanwhile, Mr Martin urged Sinn Féin MP John Finucane not to address a commemoration event this weekend.
Mr Finucane is going to be the main speaker at an event billed as a “South Armagh Volunteers Commemoration” in Mullaghbawn, County Armagh, on Sunday.
Speaking in Belfast on Wednesday, Mr Martin said Sinn Féin “needed to ask themselves some hard questions” around the legacy of the Troubles.
He added that any attempt to “celebrate or glorify horrible deeds from the past” was not the correct way forward.
“Sinn Fein has work to do in respect of legacy and in respect of the violence the Provisional IRA would have caused on many communities and many families,” the tánaiste said.
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson also attended the Belfast talks and said he had “encouraged Micheál Martin to challenge Sinn Fein’s continued glorification of the IRA”.
“Lauding murderers of the 1970s sends a confused message to those young people looking at the republican terrorists of 2023,” Sir Jeffrey said.
Mr Murphy dismissed the row as “distraction politics” led by the DUP.
He said Sinn Féin politicians had attended the event for 13 years without controversy and everyone had “the right to commemorate their dead in a dignified way”.
At Westminster, former DUP leader Baroness Foster said politicians in Northern Ireland had to stop the “glorification of terrorism”.
“We can ignore it – and it will continue – or we can deal with it,” she said on Wednesday.
“Whether you are a loyalist paramilitary or a republican paramilitary, taking up arms is always wrong.
“Therefore I do get very concerned when senior members of Sinn Féin are involved in glorifying events.”
Sir Jeffrey also called for unionists to be respected in terms of their views of post-Brexit trading arrangements.
Stormont’s power-sharing executive collapsed last year as part of the DUP’s protest against the Northern Ireland Protocol.
There were changes to those trading arrangements in the Windsor Framework, agreed by the UK and the EU in March, but the DUP has said the new deal is not good enough.
The party’s boycott has meant civil servants have been left to run Northern Ireland’s public services amid a major budget crisis.
Last month, the Stormont parties said they would need at least £1bn of extra funding to manage the financial pressure that a future executive would face.
Earlier in May, Sinn Féin won 144 seats in council elections – a rise of 39 on its 2019 showing, which made it the largest party in Northern Ireland’s local government and the assembly for the first time.
But the party’s vice-president, Michelle O’Neill, has been unable to take up the position of first minister due to the DUP’s ongoing boycott.
‘We can help’
After speaking to Stormont’s main political parties in Belfast Mr Martin said he sensed a “genuine desire” from them to get the political institutions up and running again.
But he said Sir Jeffrey had been “fairly frank in terms of what he is looking for” before the DUP would agree to that.
Mr Martin said there were “specific areas – infrastructure is one” – in which the Irish government could offer financial backing to Northern Ireland.
“We would be interested in innovative approaches on a joint basis between the Irish [and] British governments and the Northern Ireland Executive,” he said.
“There are areas where we are can help, where we are open to helping.”
Sir Jeffrey said unionists wanted to have a “constructive relationship with our nearest neighbours based on mutual respect”.
But he said it had been regrettable that the Irish government had “for long periods… failed to recognise that post-Brexit arrangements required the support of unionists as well as nationalists”.
Mr Murphy said the political impasse could not be allowed to continue into the autumn.
“While the DUP continue to dither and not tell anyone what they want or what they intend to do, public services are continuing to crash around our ears,” he said.
“The idea that we can somehow sit on our hands and the DUP can sail through the Twelfth of July and then go off on their holidays while they’re being paid to work with the rest of us to try and get solutions to these problems – it’s just not acceptable to us.”
He said his party had told the UK and Irish government that they were “not spectators in all of this” and could not “allow this drift to continue”.
Source : BBC