Sinn Féin has accused the UK government of conspiring with the DUP to deliberately block power-sharing at Stormont.
Arty President Mary Lou McDonald has claimed Prime Minister Boris Johnson was “in league with the DUP” in blocking the formation of a new Executive and Assembly in Belfast.
Ms McDonald claimed Mr Johnson had been “recklessly and cynically” facilitating the DUP in a “brinkmanship game” with the EU over the disputed Northern Ireland Protocol from Brexit.
Her comments following a meeting of Sinn Féin’s (ard chomhairle) government council in Dublin come ahead of Mr Johnson’s expected visit to Belfast on Monday to hold talks with the region’s political leaders.
After last week’s general election, the DUP refused to rejoin a power-sharing executive branch in protest at post-Brexit trade deals that have hampered the movement of goods between Britain and Northern Ireland.
Under Stormont rules, a new government cannot be formed without the participation of the largest union party.
The DUP has also blocked the nomination of a new speaker for the assembly, meaning the legislature cannot meet in the Houses of Parliament while the impasse lasts.
The moves come amid mounting speculation that Mr Johnson may be about to signal an intention to overrule aspects of the Northern Ireland Protocol through domestic legislation – a tactic the EU has warned against.
In the Stormont general election, Sinn Féin ousted the DUP to become the largest party overall in Northern Ireland for the first time.
Speaking to reporters in Dublin, Ms McDonald said: “The DUP has not simply stopped the formation of an Executive, they have also sought to veto the work of the Assembly.
“I mean it’s outrageous.
“And the UK Government has backed the DUP with these blocking tactics and they need to stop doing this and when we meet Boris Johnson on Monday we will certainly make that very clear to him.”
On the prospect of UK unilateral action over the protocol, she added: “It’s very dangerous, it’s reckless, it’s a game of brinkmanship being run very cynically by a Tory government in London who don’t care about the Isle of Ireland cares north or south.”
She said people should not be overly “frightened or distracted” by Mr Johnson’s “rhetoric”.
She said the London government had repeatedly failed to act in “good faith” throughout the Brexit process.
“They constantly threatened action and acted unilaterally,” she said.
“And let’s just be clear, protocol isn’t going anywhere. The protocol is a necessary elaboration of the Brexit that the Tory party and the DUP have been campaigning for.
“And the British government cannot use Ireland as a pawn, we will not be the collateral damage in the Brexit negotiations.”
She added: “We are not in the least bit naïve about what is happening here – it is very clear that the Tory government in London is in league with the DUP to hold back and hold back any progress that has been expressed Frustrating the will of the people in the election and that is clearly unacceptable and clearly shameful to anyone who calls themselves a Democrat. And this case will be brought before Boris Johnson.
The leader of Sinn Féin in the north, Michelle O’Neill, who is expected to become Northern Ireland’s first female minister if the DUP agrees to return to government, also spoke to ard chomhairle on Saturday.
Afterwards, Ms O’Neill also criticized Mr Johnson.
“They (the DUP) are punishing the public for their own Brexit chaos and are supported by the Tories in doing so,” she told reporters.
“They are punishing the public and that is not acceptable. And Boris Johnson has no mandate here on the island of Ireland.
“But still, he’s facilitating this DUP madness at a time when people need us to be there for them.”
DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson justified his party’s stance at Stormont, saying there was a need to send a “very clear message” to the UK government and the EU that action needed to be taken against the protocol.
He insists the trade deals undermined the terms of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and has claimed his party will not work with the Stormont institutions again until unionists’ confidence in them is restored.
Last week, Mr Johnson said the protocol had become a “real problem” that needed to be “fixed”.
“The people of Northern Ireland need leadership, they need a regional, a provincial government… they don’t have that. It’s a real, real problem,” he said.
“And the reason they don’t have that is because there is a community in Northern Ireland that doesn’t accept the way the protocol is currently working – we need to fix that.”
Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has warned that the UK will have “no choice but to act” if the EU does not show enough “flexibility” to reduce post-Brexit controls on goods that the Irish crossing the lake.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/sinn-fein-accuses-uk-government-of-conniving-with-dup-to-block-return-of-powersharing-at-stormont-41649768.html Sinn Féin accuses the UK government of conspiring with DUP to block the return of power-sharing in Stormont