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'What's wrong with someone who wants to live through Irish?' - Sinn Féin hits back at DUP

Earlier, Arlene Foster said that Sinn Féin’s ‘shopping list’ is holding up a deal in the North.

NI powersharing talks Sinn Féin leader Michelle O'Neill addressing the media outside Stormont Castle this afternoon Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Updated 19.45

A DEAL IN the North looks unlikely this evening as both the DUP and Sinn Féin put the blame at each other’s feet.

The Stormont deadline was extended to today, after parties failed to reach an agreement last Thursday.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire said that a return to a devolved government was in the best interests of the North, but said that the hiatus could not go on much longer. He said that he hoped for a deal this week.

Brokenshire said that the British government will keep an eye on the allocation of funds to Northern Ireland, but says that another election may not sort matters.

Speaking to reporters earlier, DUP leader Arlene Foster said that Sinn Féin “has a shopping list that keeps getting longer”.

Demands for an Irish language act are proving a particular stumbling block, something Foster alluded to.

“It’s a case of making sure that those who we represent also feel valued in Northern Ireland.

“What we can’t have is one section of the community having cultural supremacy over the other.”

Hitting back

Sinn Féin’s Northern leader Michelle O’Neill later hit back at Foster outside Stormont, saying: ”What’s wrong with a couple who want to be married being supported in legislation?” according to RTÉ News.

What’s wrong with a family who were bereaved 45 years ago having access to inquests? And what’s wrong with someone who wants to live and speak their lives through Irish being supported in legislation?

“We have a very, very limited time ahead of us to see those issues progressed,” O’Neill added. “Remember what we’re asking for is very, very reasonable. The only way you can have a sustainable executive is by having one with fairness and equality for all citizens.”

Earlier, Sinn Féin negotiator Conor Murphy told RTÉ that the fact that negotiations are taking place around the loyalist marching season complicated matters.

“We are in the bizarre situation, I’m sure it’s unique to here, that over the summer time we have to break because the atmosphere becomes too hostile for political negotiations.”

The North has been without a functioning devolved government since the start of the year when the administration collapsed as a result of the ‘cash for ash’ controversy, and the parties have missed a number of deadlines to get the executive back up and running.

Reuters 20170627 The statue of Edward Carson at Stormont is seen next to a road sign, in Belfast. Source: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters/PA Images

Optimism

Speaking yesterday, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said he didn’t think a deal to restore power-sharing will be reached today.

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

“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.

A senior DUP politician yesterday called on Sinn Féin to change its attitude to the negotiations “and not demand the sort of 10-0 win it’s looking for”.

However, both main parties have said the deadlock could be broken in a matter of hours if the other side could compromise.

A further deadline extension may be granted by Brokenshire today, or power could be transferred back to Westminster.

Alternatively, another election may be called.

With reporting by Daragh Brophy and Cianan Brennan

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

Read: DUP and Sinn Féin have just 24 hours to reach a deal – so what happens if they don’t? >

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