Powersharing impasse will not be solved this year, says senior DUP MLA

Powersharing impasse will not be solved this year, says senior DUP MLA

The powersharing impasse in Northern Ireland is likely to extend throughout the year and potentially beyond, a senior Democratic Unionist has said.

Simon Hamilton said he did not think an agreement between his party and Sinn Fein to restore devolution would materialise in 2018.

"I think the prospects of a return to devolution in the short-term are bleak," he told MPs at Westminster.

Mr Hamilton added: "It gives me no pleasure to say that I don't think that is going to happen in the short-term.

"I don't see it happening this year and perhaps even beyond."

Mr Hamilton, who was briefing members of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on the long-running powersharing crisis, blamed Sinn Féin's "scorched earth" policy for poisoning relations between the parties.

The DUP continues to reject Sinn Féin claims it had struck a draft agreement last month before reneging in the face of a grassroots backlash from party supporters angry that potential concessions on the vexed issue of the Irish language were in the offing.

Mr Hamilton said media reports suggesting that a draft deal had been done, with claims DUP leader Arlene Foster had handed over a hard copy to Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill, were the result of "mischief making" and "selective leaking" by the republican party.

The Strangford Assembly member has been a key member of the DUP's negotiating team through the various rounds of ill-fated negotiations during the 14-month impasse.

He defended the leadership of Mrs Foster and said she had headed up the negotiations at all stages of the process.

Mr Hamilton claimed reasons preventing the restoration of devolved government included Sinn Féin "intransigence" and the party's continued "eulogising" of the IRA.

"Their behaviour in recent days and their behaviour in recent weeks suggest to me that they are not serious about getting devolution back," he said.

The powersharing institutions first imploded last January amid a row over a botched green energy scheme.

The dispute subsequently widened to take in more long-standing disputes over the Irish language; social issues like the North's ban on same-sex marriage; the treatment of members of the Armed Forces; and mechanisms to deal with the legacy of the Troubles.

The DUP has called for a return to Westminster direct rule to stabilise the region's rudderless public services amid the continued absence of a Stormont executive.

- PA

More on this topic

SF and DUP 'unwilling to show urgency or serious leadership', says MartinSF and DUP 'unwilling to show urgency or serious leadership', says Martin

Peter Robinson calls on NI parties to return to negotiating tablePeter Robinson calls on NI parties to return to negotiating table

MLA staff will not have salaries cut, Northern Ireland Secretary saysMLA staff will not have salaries cut, Northern Ireland Secretary says

Simon Coveney plays down significance of lack of DUP meetingSimon Coveney plays down significance of lack of DUP meeting

More in this Section

Gardaí investigating whether fire in Cork was started deliberatelyGardaí investigating whether fire in Cork was started deliberately

Tracker Mortgage Scandal: Hundreds may find their complaints judged out of date Tracker Mortgage Scandal: Hundreds may find their complaints judged out of date

Irish 'blame culture' contributing to shortage of consultantsIrish 'blame culture' contributing to shortage of consultants

HSE spending on agency staff in mental health services nearly twice its budgetHSE spending on agency staff in mental health services nearly twice its budget


Lifestyle

Parents need all the help they can get these days — so should children help out more at home, asks Lindsay WoodsHelping hands: Chores can be child’s play

The Leaving Cert points have been tallied, the CAO offers made, and now the hunt is on for student accommodation.Making Cents: Now, first-years must learn how to rent a room

A dermatologist gives their advice on what to do when your skin is suffering from post-partum hormones.How your skin can change post-pregnancy and what you can do about it

Sadly, the deceased Okjokull Glacier might just be the tip of the iceberg.As Iceland mourns a departed glacier – Five glaciers to visit before they disappear

More From The Irish Examiner