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Sinn Féin holds its ground on Irish language legislation as NI political crisis continues

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has called for direct UK intervention to resolve an emotive dispute over Irish language legislation

Sinn Féin is refusing to appoint a deputy First Minister until its demands on Irish language legislation are met.

Sinn Féin President, Mary Lou McDonald, has called for British government intervention to resolve an emotive dispute between her party and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the largest pro-UK political organization in the north of Ireland.

Following a meeting with Northern Ireland Secretary, Brandon Lewis, McDonald said that Sinn Féin had declined an earlier offer from the British government to legislate on the Irish language issue at Westminster because the party’s preference was to resolve the matter at Stormont (the seat of the Northern Ireland Assembly).  

"This legislation [New Decade, New Approach] was negotiated a year-and-a-half ago and it is now incumbent on the British and Irish governments to act", McDonald asserted.

McDonald’s position was reinforced by Sinn Féin MP, Chris Hazzard, who has ruled out power-sharing with the DUP in the absence of legislative movement on the all-important Irish language issue.

Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Ulster program, Hazzard, who represents the South Down constituency at Westminster, proclaimed that the “underlying fact in all of this is power-sharing doesn’t work on broken promises”.

But the DUP is refusing to concede despite making pledges on the Irish language and broader cultural issues under its former leadership headed by Arlene Foster. 

The DUP is also opposed to involvement by the British government on the grounds that only devolved institutions have the competence to delve into the matter.

To that end, DUP MP, Sammy Wilson, has said the UK government “must not interfere in devolved issues at the behest of Sinn Féin”.

The two parties have until Monday (June 21) to resolve their differences and approve new first and deputy first ministers, otherwise Northern Ireland Secretary, Brandon Lewis, will be obliged to call an election within a "reasonable time".


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