Foster slams ‘scaremongering’ ri­val union­ists as talks reach cru­cial stage

Belfast Telegraph - - NEWS | POLITICS - BY STAFF RE­PORTERS

DUP leader Ar­lene Foster has hit out at ri­val union­ists for “scaremongering” as the talks head to­wards a crunch week­end.

A West­min­ster de­bate on emer­gency North­ern Ire­land leg­is­la­tion could be held on Mon­day.

If a res­o­lu­tion is found over the week­end, MPs could pro­vide for re­stored de­vo­lu­tion at Stor­mont, but Sec­re­tary of State James Bro­ken­shire has said clear dif­fer­ences re­main between the par­ties.

Last night Mrs Foster said the DUP would “con­tinue to work to­wards re­solv­ing the out­stand­ing is­sues” but lashed out at other union­ists for their “pre­dic­tions of doom”.

“I am dis­ap­pointed by some com­ments from fel­low union­ists who are not in­volved in the talks,” she said. “They should cease from their scaremongering. I well re­call the shame­ful way some tried to frighten peo­ple when we were ne­go­ti­at­ing the re­turn of jus­tice pow­ers to Stor­mont.

“Their pre­dic­tions of doom were proved false back then. Un- ion­ists know the DUP will stand up for the Union and the iden­tity we all cher­ish. Those who ped­dle scare sto­ries are do­ing the work of those who op­pose the Union.

“The DUP will al­ways do what is in the best in­ter­ests of North­ern Ire­land and we will stand strong for the peo­ple of North­ern Ire­land as we seek agree­ment that both union­ists and na­tion­al­ists can sup­port.”

Mr Bro­ken­shire has re­peat­edly warned he will pass a bud­get to run pub­lic ser­vices if po­lit­i­cal ne­go­tia­tors can­not find agree­ment.

He said: “I want to be in a po­si­tion to leg­is­late to form an Ex­ec­u­tive as soon as pos­si­ble but to do so I would need to be sat­is­fied that there is agree­ment between the par­ties.

“Whilst this re­mains pos­si­ble, and some progress has been made, clear dif­fer­ences still re­main between the par­ties and agree­ment has yet to be found. If this can­not be re­solved quickly, I will need to leg­is­late for a bud­get for North­ern Ire­land by the end of this month and con­sider next steps.”

The Govern­ment has made par­lia­men­tary time avail­able to re­in­state Stor­mont power-shar­ing next week should a deal be clinched.

The Leader of the House of Com­mons An­drea Lead­som said she was “hope­ful” of good news.

How­ever, Sinn Fein Stor­mont leader Michelle O’Neill ap­peared to play down spec­u­la­tion that a deal was im­mi­nent.

“There are still very real chal­lenges to be ad­dressed if we are to achieve the restora­tion of the po­lit­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions on the ba­sis they de­liver for all,” she said.

“We have been en­gaged over re­cent days in in­ten­sive talks to get the po­lit­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions up and run­ning with equal­ity, re­spect and in­tegrity at their core.”

Crit­i­cal: Ar­lene Foster

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