Gerry Adams urges unionist voters to reject ’operation fear’ tactics

Gerry Adams has said he hopes unionist voters will not buy concerted attempts by the Democratic Unionists to demonise him in the Assembly election campaign.

The Sinn Fein president said the DUP’s repeated warnings about him, in an election in which he is not even standing as a candidate, was "very typical operation fear tactics".

Mr Adams, a TD for Co Louth in the Irish Dail, claimed the intense focus on him was the DUP’s effort to deflect public attention from the party’s handling of a botched green energy scheme that has left Stormont facing a potential £490 million overspend.

"I would like to think that unionists out there, people whose money went down the drain without any satisfactory explanation so far, will not be swept along by an attempt to make this an orange and green issue," he said

On Monday, DUP leader Arlene Foster told the Press Association she made "no apologies" for concentrating on Sinn Fein and Mr Adams’ influence on the party north of the border.

She claimed Northern Ireland’s constitutional future would be thrown up in the air if his party topped the polls in Thursday’s snap election.

Mrs Foster said such a result would see the UK Government come under renewed republican pressure to hold a referendum on a united Ireland.

"I am not going to apologise for the fact there’s a huge threat to Northern Ireland," she said.

"People have talked about scare tactics and talked about fear, the reality (of a Sinn Fein victory) would be much worse for Northern Ireland than just talking about it.

"People should be concerned, they should be worried."

Mr Adams was on the Falls Road in Belfast on Tuesday with Sinn Fein’s Stormont leader Michelle O’Neill delivering a pre-election message to voters.

Mrs O’Neill also rejected the DUP campaign tactics.

"This election is not about orange and green issues, it’s not about the politics of fear, it’s about the future and we fought the campaign on that basis," she said.

If the DUP and Sinn Fein are returned as Northern Ireland’s largest political parties they will have three weeks to resolve their multiple differences and agree to form a new coalition executive.

Given Sinn Fein has ruled out entering any government involving Mrs Foster before an as-yet uncommenced public inquiry into the error-ridden renewable heat incentive (RHI) scheme reports, the likelihood of a new administration being formed post-election is slim.

If the three-week deadline passes without agreement, Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire would be legally obliged to call another snap election.

However, In such circumstances, the Government may consider emergency legislation to suspend devolution and restore direct rule, a move that could pave the way for a longer negotiation process.

On Tuesday, Mrs O’Neill reiterated her stance that Mr Brokenshire could not chair any post-election talks.

"James Brokenshire is not in our opinion and never can be an honest broker," she said.

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