Arlene Foster to address DUP members

Arlene Foster to address DUP members”

Speaking at a DUP meeting in Belfast last night, Mrs Foster said the north's government needed to be restored.

Mrs Foster warned that if the parties can not tackle key issues "in a way that commands cross community support then the executive would cease to exist".

Talks aimed at restoring power-sharing in Northern Ireland have so far failed to reach agreement.

"Northern Ireland simply can not continue without democratic oversight and that means the speedy introduction of direct rule if agreement is not reached".

Mrs Foster met Irish language enthusiasts earlier in the year in a bid to better understand supporters who are not politicised.

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

Foster said the DUP was willing to support "practical measures for the Irish language. if we can reach a wider agreement on these matters".

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

Powersharing has been suspended since early this year when late Sinn Fein deputy first minister Martin McGuinness resigned in protest at the DUP's handling of a botched green energy scheme which risks landing the taxpayer in millions of pounds of debt. "This is not an unreasonable question given some of the recent comments from Gerry Adams".

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Sinn Fein's leader in the North Michelle O'Neill said she was committed to the re-establishment of the ministerial Executive and the DUP was well aware of what is required to get the institutions up and running.

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

Ulster Unionist Leader Robin Swann acknowledged the DUP's proposal to restore the Executive, but in light of Sinn Féin's intransigence other options should be explored.

Foster said that a series of "one-sided demands" by Sinn Fein had made progress impossible and that they must move to achieve a breakthrough.

"If Sinn Féin and the DUP can no longer work together then other alternatives should be explored to ensure that Northern Ireland is governed by Northern Ireland politicians", he said.

The SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said the DUP proposition was a can-kicking exercise.

"Anything that can be agreed in a time-limited parallel process can be agreed now", he said.

Continued failure would force the British government to bypass the regional assembly and revert to direct rule from London for the first time in a decade, a move that could destabilize the political balance in the province.

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