Sinn Féin rejects DUP Irish language proposal

Arlene Foster says they will agree to "one-sided demands"

Sinn Féin rejects DUP Irish language proposal

Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill holds a press conference at Parliament Buildings, Stormont | Image: David Young/PA Wire/PA Images

The latest move to break the political deadlock in Northern Ireland appears to have failed.

DUP leader Arlene Foster says she is prepared to do a deal on key issues like the Irish language, once power-sharing resumes.

But Sinn Féin has rejected the idea, saying it does not trust the DUP to stick to its word.

Its leader in the North, Michelle O'Neill, said: "Sinn Féin is entirely committed to making the political institutions work for all citizens.

"For over ten years Martin McGuinness maintained the executive while seeking to have the outstanding commitments of the agreements implemented with respect and equality for all.

"Over this period the DUP and the British government refused to honour the agreements and operate powersharing on the basis of equality. On that basis Martin McGuiness resigned.

"The statement by the DUP leader demonstrates that they have not listened or acknowledged the reasons for Martin’s resignation.

"Establishing an executive that may collapse after a matter of months on the same issues will only fail all our people."

DUP leader Arlene Foster speaking to the media at Stormont Castle, Belfast | Image: Liam McBurney/PA Wire/PA Images

"We have nothing to fear"

Laying out her plan on Thursday night, DUP leader Arlene Foster said the North has not time for more talks.

"Well we can enter into another round of talks. Parties can state and restate their positions.

"All the while waiting lists will get longer, investment opportunities will be missed and Northern Ireland's voice will continue to absent from Brexit negotiations."

"Given the size of Northern Ireland and the scale of the challenges we face, we will only succeed if we all move forward together.

"Agreements can only be achieved when there is recognition that the support of both unionists and nationalists is required if they are to stick."

"If we are to work together successfully then trust will have to be built between the parties in the assembly."

On the issue of an Irish Language Act, Ms Foster said: "We have nothing to fear from the Irish language nor is it any threat to the union.

"We have previously supported practical measures for the Irish language and we will do so again if we can reach a wider agreement on these matters.

"However what we cannot and will not do is simply agree to one-sided demands."

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has warned that there can be no resolution to the political deadlock in the North without Irish language rights.