Tánaiste Simon Coveney has said that he hopes Sinn Féin will “sell” the deal aimed at restoring the Northern Executive and Assembly.
The British and Irish governments on Thursday night published their estimate of what constitutes a “fair, balanced and inclusive” deal.
Sinn Féin now has a “unique responsibility”, Mr Coveney toldshow. “They know there cannot be a power sharing executive without both Sinn Féin and the DUP.”
This is a significant day for the people of Northern Ireland, he added. The proposed deal will protect the institution of power sharing and the petition of concern will mean that if one of the parties walks out there will be time to ensure that the institution can survive, he said.
The Irish language will be facilitated and protected under new legislation which will introduce an Irish language commissioner who will set standards.
Later, speaking on RTÉ Radio’sMr Coveney said that Thursday had been the “end point” for both the Irish and British governments with regard to the “endless negotiations” with the parties.
Hopefully all five parties will commit to having a functioning government again. The deal is now the deal, the parties have to make a decision. If they are looking for the positives, there are more than enough to back it.
However, Mr Coveney warned that time is running out and if a deal is not in place “time will run out on Monday” and there will be elections in Northern Ireland.
“The focus is to get Stormont up and running today.”
The Tánaiste said he hoped Sinn Féin’s Ard Comhairle meeting on Friday will support the proposal.
The Irish Government has committed €110m to projects in Northern Ireland, he added.
We are bought into this. I hope to see history being made today after three years of stagnation.
DUP leader Arlene Foster toldthat her party believed the deal was balanced and she would be asking members to view it “in a holistic way.”
“We stand ready to go into an Assembly today.”
Ms Foster said she hoped the other parties would also come forward to support the deal. “The sooner we can get back devolution back, the better for the people of Northern Ireland.”
She said she had spoken with Sinn Féin’s leader in Northern Ireland, Michelle O’Neill on Thursday night and respected that the matter would have to go before the Ard Comhairle.
Ms Foster acknowledged that relations between the two parties had deteriorated over the past three years, but she said she had a record of 10 years in government with Sinn Féin prior to that. “We want to make Northern Ireland work, I hope we have the partners to do that.”