North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Philip McGuigan has expressed disappointment that the DUP leadership failed to close on an agreed accommodation with Sinn Féin that would have allowed the Good Friday Agreement Institutions to function again.
Mr. McGuigan said:
“After 13 months of negotiations Sinn Féin and the DUP leaderships had reached an accommodation on the way forward which would have allowed us to get back, on a sustainable basis, to governing on behalf of all citizens who live here. It is extremely disappointing that the DUP, for whatever reasons, took cold feet and reneged on their commitment.
“Sinn Féin want the Assembly up and running as we believe its in the best interests of all our people, our economy, our public services and building reconciliation. But it must be sustainable and it must operate with respect, equality and integrity.
“The issues of Language Equality, Marriage Equality, A bill of Rights, Legacy inquest rights, and of making sure any Government can function properly are not going to go away. The DUP will have to deal with them at some point.
Mr. McGuigan said it is important that hysteria should not be allowed to build up in unionist communities over these issues.
“None of the issues being discussed are about diminishing Unionist or British culture. They are about equal recognition of rights so that we can all move on together. Despite the nonsense being articulated by some Unionist politicians I can assure people that the Irish language wont be forced on anyone. Marriage equality for the LGBT community will have no impact or detract from the Marriage rights of anyone else. Families, in some cases waiting over 40 years, deserve the right of having an inquest heard in relation to the death of their loved ones. A bill of Rights protects us all regardless of religion, politics,sex, colour of skin or sexual orientation. Working in partnership will improve the lives of all who live in the North.
“So I would appeal to the Unionist population over the heads of the likes of their politicians. Do you want to move forward in partnership with your Nationalist/Republican neighbours? Do not be lead by fear or misinformation. We need an Assembly to act as a bulwark against the devastation of current Torty/DUP austerity policies.