Sinn Féin leader seeking to sow division, says Foster

Sinn Féin leader seeking to sow division, says Foster
DUP leader Arlene Foster.

DUP leader Arlene Foster has accused Sinn Féin of trying to render Northern Ireland dysfunctional.

Addressing party faithful at the DUP's spring conference in Ballymena, Mrs Foster said her erstwhile partners in devolved government were actively seeking to sow division in the region.

Firing the latest broadside in an increasingly acrimonious war of words between the parties, Mrs Foster said the prospects of an imminent return to powersharing were not promising.

In the ongoing absence of devolution, she reiterated her party's support for a form of shadow Assembly that would give locally elected politicians a role in scrutinising decisions taken in Westminster.

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley is currently examining the half-way house proposal as a potential means to govern the region going forward.

Citing the recent £410m (€469.03m) injection of funds into the region through the DUP's confidence and supply deal with the Tories in Westminster, Mrs Foster insisted her party continued to deliver for the region, while claiming Sinn Féin offered nothing constructive.

"People are starting to see that not only were the naysayers who doubted that the confidence and supply money was real very, very wrong but that the DUP deliver for everyone in every part of Northern Ireland," the DUP leader said.

"What are Sinn Féin delivering for our people? The answer is short and simple - absolutely nothing.

Sorry, that isn't entirely fair. Sinn Féin are at least trying to deliver. They are trying to deliver division and dysfunction. But we are not going to allow them to hold Northern Ireland to ransom any longer.

"The best way, by far, to deliver for everyone in Northern Ireland, is through sharing power in a restored Assembly at Stormont.

"This party is committed to devolution. We want to see power in the hands of locally elected and locally accountable ministers.

"But in the absence of devolution, the Democratic Unionist Party is finding other ways to deliver for Northern Ireland."

Powersharing imploded last January amid a row over a botched green energy scheme. The rift subsequently widened to take in disputes over issues such as the Irish language, same-sex marriage and how to handle the legacy of the Troubles.

Irish language students protest at Stormont.
Irish language students protest at Stormont.

Sinn Féin has claimed Mrs Foster agreed a draft deal to resurrect powersharing last month before pulling the plug in the face of an internal revolt among party members angry at the prospect of concessions on the thorny issue of the Irish language.

It is an allegation Mrs Foster has strenuously denied.

Delivering the leader's address at the conference at the Tullyglass Hotel, Mrs Foster said: "Whether it's health or education or jobs or infrastructure, the DUP is prioritising what is important to people of all persuasions in Northern Ireland.

Secretary of State Karen Bradley.
Secretary of State Karen Bradley.

"What are Sinn Fein prioritising? They're putting their own narrow political interest first.

"Ministerial decisions being made by the Secretary of State is in no way our preferred outcome. But it is far better than no decisions being taken at all.

"We will continue to work closely with Karen Bradley as she makes good on her commitment to do whatever is necessary to fulfil Her Majesty's government's responsibilities to the people of Northern Ireland including working with her on ways for the Assembly that the people elected last year to have an input.

We must support and encourage the Secretary of State to take those necessary decisions because, as much as we want to see the Assembly and Executive up and running again, let's face it, the prospects of a return of devolution anytime soon doesn't look promising.

Mrs Foster also said the DUP needed more than ideology if it was to achieve its overarching aim of preserving the union with Great Britain.

"I truly believe that if we are to achieve our overarching aim of preserving the Union then we have to concentrate on our ideas and not our ideology and focus on defying our opponents by making Northern Ireland work for everyone," she said.

"Having secured an historic election victory (in last year's general election) we cannot fall into the trap of complacency.

"We must build on that triumph and the best way to do that is to persuade people that they should vote for the DUP not just because we are the biggest party. Or because we are best placed to beat Sinn Fein. But because we have the best ideas."

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald.
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald.

- PA

More on this topic

Stormont cannot be resurrected without fundamental reform – Steve AikenStormont cannot be resurrected without fundamental reform – Steve Aiken

Fresh talks to resurrect Stormont to begin on December 16 – Julian SmithFresh talks to resurrect Stormont to begin on December 16 – Julian Smith

Foster: No regrets not stepping aside as First Minister over RHIFoster: No regrets not stepping aside as First Minister over RHI

Arlene Foster urges post-election negotiations to break Stormont deadlockArlene Foster urges post-election negotiations to break Stormont deadlock


More in this Section

Two men held after digger used in double ATM theftTwo men held after digger used in double ATM theft

8 National Parks and Nature Reserves to close for Storm Atiyah8 National Parks and Nature Reserves to close for Storm Atiyah

Man due in court over drug, gold and alcohol seizureMan due in court over drug, gold and alcohol seizure

Restricting TDs and Senators from double-jobbing 'needs consideration', says TaoiseachRestricting TDs and Senators from double-jobbing 'needs consideration', says Taoiseach


Lifestyle

This Christmas remember that there is no such thing as cheap food.Buy local: Use your LOAF

As we wait, eager and giddy, a collective shudder of agitated ardor ripples through the theatre, like a Late, Late Toyshow audience when they KNOW Ryan’s going to give them another €150 voucher. Suddenly, a voice booms from the stage. Everyone erupts, whooping and cheering. And that was just for the safety announcement.Everyman's outstanding Jack and the Beanstalk ticks all panto boxes

Every band needs a Bez. In fact, there’s a case to be made that every workplace in the country could do with the Happy Mondays’ vibes man. Somebody to jump up with a pair of maracas and shake up the energy when things begin to flag.Happy Mondays create cheery Tuesday in Cork gig

More From The Irish Examiner