Published: Fri, September 01, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Sinn Féin rejects DUP's Irish language proposal to restore power-sharing

Sinn Féin rejects DUP's Irish language proposal to restore power-sharing

Sinn Féin rejected the plan and said the DUP have not addressed the cause of the Assembly's collapse.

Arlene Foster says she is willing to deal with key stumbling blocks like the Irish Language, but only after the parties resume their roles in the Stormont executive and assembly.

Speaking at a Friday morning press conference at the party's Falls Road offices in west Belfast, Mrs O'Neill said there was nothing new in the offer and the same proposal had been made an earlier stage of discussions, which was dismissed.

Mrs Foster added that more talks would be a "waste of time unless there is some new thinking".

"But we also agree to bring forward legislation to address culture and language issues in Northern Ireland within a time-limited period to be agreed".

It is very different rhetoric from that of February when she said defiantly: "I will never accede to an Irish language act".

"The statement by the DUP leader demonstrates that they have not listened or acknowledged the reasons for Martin's resignation. 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", she told the executive.

"We must establish a new cultural deal to provide a comprehensive and long-term approach to the sensitive issue of identity", she said.

It is understood Stormont's main parties are continuing to have bilateral meetings with little direct involvement from either the British or Irish governments.

Foster, who was the first minister in the previous power-sharing government, which broke up ostensibly over her refusal to temporarily stand down over a costly green energy scheme the DUP championed, said: "However, what we can not and will not do is simply to agree to one-sided demands. Time is not the issue, a critical lack of political generosity is".

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