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Dublin: 9 °C Thursday 22 March, 2018

Gerry Adams asks UK to not restore direct rule from Westminster in North

The Sinn Féin leader doesn’t expect a power-sharing deal to be reached in Northern Ireland by tomorrow.

gerry2 Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill and Gerry Adams Source: Niall Carson/PA Wire/PA Images

GERRY ADAMS HAS asked Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire to not reinstate direct rule from Westminster in the North.

The Sinn Féin leader has said he doesn’t expect a deal to restore power-sharing will be reached by tomorrow’s deadline. Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) missed the previous deadline of 4pm on Thursday.

Brokenshire is expected to make a statement tomorrow about what will happen if a deal is not reached by then. A further deadline extension may be granted or power could be transferred back to Westminster. Alternatively, another election may be called.

Speaking to RTÉ Radio 1′s This Week, Adams said he has spoken to Brokenshire and asked him “not to contemplate a return to direct rule”, adding: “I don’t know what he’s going to do.”

Adams said he welcomed the involvement of new Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney in the negotiations.

He accused the DUP of “using mechanisms to block deals already done over the last 20 years”. He said Arlene Foster’s party is “fundamentally against equality” – accusing them of being against rights for Irish speakers, gay people, women and minorities.

Thousands of people marched in Belfast yesterday calling for same-sex marriage to be legalised in Northern Ireland – something the DUP is against.

“I’m not pessimistic, Sinn Féin are a party of optimists. The DUP are showing no urgency in dealing with the equality and rights issues which caused the collapse of the political institutions,” Adams said.

‘Particular world view’

Adams stated that deals have not been reached on an Irish language act, marriage equality, anti-sectarian measures and legacy issues. He said Sinn Féin “doesn’t have an issue” with Ulster Scots being included in the language act.

Adams said he believed the outstanding issues “can be resolved within one hour”, but the DUP is blocking this because of the party’s “particular world view”.

He added that the party “may feel emboldened after the Westminster election results” – citing the £1 billion (about €1.1 billion) deal the DUP struck with Theresa May’s government after the Conservatives lost their parliamentary majority in last month’s snap election.

The DUP has, in turn, been critical of Sinn Féin. MLA Edwin Poots told BBC News  Thursday’s missed deadline meant Stormont is now “operating on a 95% budget, which is essentially a 5% cut across all of the departments”.

“Whilst we understand that Irish language is hugely important to Sinn Féin – health, education, jobs, the economy, infrastructure, environment, agriculture – all of these issues are hugely important to us, hugely important to the public,” Poots said.

£1 billion Tory deal

Meanwhile, Conservative MP and Environment secretary Michael Gove told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show the £1 billion given to Northern Ireland won’t just benefit that region, rather the UK as a whole.

“We wanted to make sure that we had as secure a majority as possible,” Gove said.

At this point Marr cut him off, stating: “They had you over a barrel basically, didn’t they? And they said £1 billion on the nail now or we don’t support you, and you said ‘Oh, alright then’?”

gove Michael Gove Source: The Andrew Marr Show

Gove replied: “Not quite, I think there are two things which are important to say. Of course we all know that the Conservatives don’t have a majority, we didn’t get one after the general election and therefore we wanted to be in a position in order to provide a secure majority for the Queen’s speech, a chance to ensure that we could govern in the national interest.

And so we had conversations with the DUP, but it’s also a case that the money that is being spent in Northern Ireland is being spent in a way which crosses all the sectarian divides of the past. It’s money that is being welcomed not just by people within Northern Ireland, but across the United Kingdom as a proper investment in making sure that our kingdom is stronger and that our union is protected.

When asked by Marr where the money is coming from, Gove said “hardworking” taxpayers.

He denied that people elsewhere in the UK are losing out because this money is being spent in Northern Ireland, saying people across Britain will benefit from the deal.

Read: Gerry Adams doesn’t think power-sharing deal will be reached by Monday

Read: Deadline missed: No deal reached in Stormont talks

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