A proposal on the Irish language would not have “threatened” anyone in the North, Tánaiste Simon Coveney told the Dáil.
Announcing earlier this week that there was “no current prospect” of talks leading to an executive being formed, DUP leader Arlene Foster cited calls for a standalone Irish Language Act as being one of the key factors in the collapse of talks.
“I respect the Irish language and those who speak it but in a shared society this cannot be a one-way street. Respect for the unionist and British identity has not been reciprocated,” she said.
Mr Coveney acknowledged there is “frustration” within unionism and the DUP regarding Irish language issues in particular.
However, he added: “My understanding of the accommodation that was reached is one that ensures that the Irish language is not a threat to anybody but instead is part of the diversity of Northern Ireland and part of the identity of many who live there who see the Irish language as part of who they are and who do not want to force that part of who they are on anybody else.”
Mr Coveney also hit out at Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin for taking to Twitter to “criticise two governments who are working in partnership to try to bring about devolved government again in Northern Ireland”.
Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty added: “The Fianna Fáil leader, Deputy Martin, has trotted out the same tired “two problem parties” line while also blaming both Governments.
"This, from the same Fianna Fáil leader who a couple of years ago called for the institutions in the North to be suspended.
"Now he wants to point the finger of blame at everyone involved in efforts to get the institutions back up and running despite not lifting a finger himself. This is a disgraceful attitude, completely at odds with the facts.”
He acknowledged the Tánaiste’s contribution to talks describing him as being “involved and engaged” in the process.
Mr Coveney said he believed they had been “very close” to agreement last Friday and both the Irish and UK Government’s as well as Sinn Féin had not been expecting the DUP to make such a statement this week.
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