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15 February 2018

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Rights for all does not mean having fewer rights for some - Pearse Doherty TD

“Over the past year, there has been a mammoth amount of work done to restore the political institutions in the north. Sinn Féin’s focus has been doing that on the basis of respect, integrity and equality for all sections of society." - Pearse Doherty TD

Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty TD has echoed the words of his colleagues in the north that “direct rule is not an option”, after the DUP’s decision to pull the plug on the political talks in Stormont yesterday afternoon.

Arlene Foster collapsed the talks citing that “no deal could be reached”, but it has been confirmed by Sinn Féin that an accommodation had been agreed between the two parties, with a way forward on all the key issues.

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, Teachta Doherty called for the Irish government to make their position clear to the British government that direct rule from Britain is not an option.

Teachta Doherty said: “Over the past year, there has been a mammoth amount of work done to restore the political institutions in the north. Sinn Féin’s focus has been doing that on the basis of respect, integrity and equality for all sections of society.

“Sinn Féin engaged, we worked in good faith, we stretched ourselves. There was an accommodation with the DUP. We had the basis of a deal. The Irish government, based on what the Tánaiste has said since, believed there was the basis for a deal, and the British government likewise.

“The DUP failed to close that deal and collapsed the process yesterday afternoon.”

Tanaiste Simon Coveney confirmed to the Dáil that an accommodation had been reached with the DUP when he said,

“My understanding of the accommodation that was reached is one that ensures that the Irish language is not a threat to anybody but instead is part of the diversity of Northern Ireland and part of the identity of many who live there who see the Irish language as part of who they are and who do not want to force that part of who they are on anybody else.”

The DUP released a statement from Arlene Foster yesterday afternoon stating that “Sinn Féin’s insistence on a stand-alone Irish Language Act means that we have reached an impasse”, and that “respect for the unionist and British identity has not been reciprocated” – something that has been denied by Sinn Féin.

In 2006, the International St. Andrews Agreement saw the British and Irish Governments committing to an Irish Language Act. This act is similar to the Welsh Language Act, which put the Welsh language on an equal footing with the English language in Wales with regard to the public sector. .

The DUP used their veto and power to prevent this agreement to be implemented, whilst also blocking things such as grant schemes for disadvantaged children to go to Gaeltacht and other basic modest measures that were compromised and agreed on previously.

Donegal TD, Teachta Doherty, pointed out to the Dáil that the issues such as same-sex marriage and the Irish language don’t threaten anybody.

Teachta Doherty continued: “These are issues of rights and having rights for all does not mean having fewer rights for some. Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill are in Belfast today and I would urge the DUP to reflect on their position.

“The issues involved are not going away - Sinn Féin know that, the Irish government know that, the British government know that and the DUP know that.”

Teachta Doherty also criticised comments from Micheál Martin’s criticisms of those involved in the efforts to get the institutions back up and running.

PD LQ

Teachta Doherty said: “These comments come from the same Fianna Fáil leader who just a couple of years ago called for the institutions in the north to be suspended. Now he wants to point the finger of blame at everyone involved in efforts to get the institutions back up and running despite not lifting a finger himself.”

Sinn Féin members in the north and south have made it crystal clear that they want the institutions back up and running in order for public services and rights to be delivered for all citizens and that direct rule is not an option.

Teactha Doherty said: “The Taoiseach said in December that the Irish government ‘won't be supporting direct rule’. In September you said there ‘can be no British-only direct rule’. Have you made that position clear to the British government?”

The current situation see’s Michelle O’Neill and Mary Lou McDonald continue discussions in Stormont with both governments, in a bid to establish a solution. The progress that has been made, over the past four weeks especially, cannot and should not go to waste.

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