SF re­jec­tion of DUP olive branch on Ir­ish lan­guage pure self­ish­ness: Dodds

Belfast Telegraph - - NEWS - BY SUZANNE BREEN

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds has ac­cused Sinn Fein of re­ject­ing a “com­mon sense pro­posal” to save power-shar­ing at Stor­mont.

Mr Dodds (be­low) said Ar­lene Foster’s of­fer to leg­is­late for the Ir­ish lan­guage within a set pe­riod if the Ex­ec­u­tive was re­stored was re­jected just 90 min­utes af­ter it was made.

He also ac­cused Sinn Fein of pri­ori­tis­ing its “nar­row self-in­ter­ests over the com­mon good”.

How­ever, the repub­li­can party hit back and said the DUP was not in a po­si­tion to lec­ture any­one about com­mon sense or self­less­ness.

Writ­ing for The House po­lit­i­cal mag­a­zine, Mr Dodds said his party’s “rea­son­able” pro­posal had been wel­comed by Fianna Fail and Ir­ish For­eign Min­is­ter Si­mon Coveney.

“I call our pro­posal com­mon sense be­cause it was the way any other leg­is­la­ture would deal with a sim­i­lar is­sue,” he said.

“Sinn Fein wants the Ir­ish lan­guage pro­tected in leg­is­la­tion. There­fore it makes sense for a draft Bill to be tabled in the As­sem­bly.

“Let MLAs de­bate it, scruti­not nise it, pro­pose amend­ments to it and ul­ti­mately pass it. That’s democ­racy.

“That’s how sound leg­is­la­tion is made.”

The North Belfast MP also in­sisted that “one po­lit­i­cal de­mand” should not be al­lowed to halt much-needed health and ed­u­ca­tion re­forms and eco­nomic progress.

“Surely the les­son of the last decade has been that North­ern Ire­land only moves for­ward when ev­ery­one works to­gether,” Mr Dodds said.

“A win­ners and losers ap­proach will only guar­an­tee fail­ure in both the short and longterm.

“At­tempts by Sinn Fein to pri­ori­tise their nar­row self-in­ter­ests over the col­lec­tive good help no one.

“The com­ing days and weeks will be a real test of Sinn Fein’s po­lit­i­cal ma­tu­rity and com­mit­ment to the peo­ple of North­ern Ire­land.”

Mr Dodds warned that un­less agree­ment was found quickly, di­rect rule would be in­tro­duced be­cause North­ern Ire­land could “con­tinue on cruise-con­trol with no hands on the steer­ing wheel”.

“Those cur­rently hold­ing North­ern Ire­land to ran­som con­tinue to ped­dle a myth that the Ir­ish Gov­ern­ment will have some role in gov­ern­ing North­ern Ire­land. “They will not,” he said. “The pa­tience of the Ul­ster peo­ple is world-renowned, but they are be­ing pushed to the brink by those who think nar­row po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests should trump mat­ters of life and death.”

How­ever, Sinn Fein Foyle MP Elisha McCal­lion said the DUP could not lec­ture oth­ers on com­mon sense when it had signed up to sup­port “every Tory bud­get and every piece of Tory Brexit leg­is­la­tion with­out even hav­ing seen them”. Mrs McCal­lion added: “If the DUP are se­ri­ously con­cerned about pub­lic ser­vices and the well-be­ing of peo­ple who live here, they would tear up their blank cheque to the Tories.

“And they would end their de­nial of rights to cit­i­zens here — the same rights which are pro­tected in law ev­ery­where else on these is­lands.”

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