Northern Ireland

Martin McGuinness accuses PM of 'lacklustre stewardship'

David Cameron meeting DUP leader Peter Robinson and deputy Sinn Fein leader Martin McGuiness in Downing Street in June 2013 Image copyright AFP
Image caption David Cameron meeting DUP leader Peter Robinson and deputy Sinn Fein leader Martin McGuinness in Downing Street in June 2013

Martin McGuinness has accused David Cameron of "lacklustre stewardship of the peace process" following claims the PM has been "wooing" the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

The prime minister hosted drinks for eight DUP MPs in No 10 last week.

Earlier, David Cameron said it was "right to talk" to other political parties in case he needs their support after the general election.

Mr McGuinness described the PM as "cosying up" to the DUP.

He said: "David Cameron has failed to meet with the Sinn Féin leadership on a range of serious issues, which have had a destabilising effect on the political process.

"The revelation that David Cameron may have been cosying up to the DUP with an eye on the next British elections may explain the increasingly partisan role the British government has been playing in the peace process."

He called on the PM to meet with him and Gerry Adams.

'Wooing'

DUP sources had told the Guardian that the PM was "seriously interested" in future relations amid speculation he may rely on their backing in a hung parliament.

According to the Guardian, the drinks in the Downing Street garden were held on the same evening that Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams was arrested by police investigating the disappearance of Jean McConville.

A DUP source told the newspaper that "it would be fair to say that a lot of wooing is going on".

"You don't invite eight parliamentarians to such a reception and have the children playing around unless you are seriously interested," they added.

However, Mr Cameron told BBC Radio 5live: "It's is only right the prime minister talks to other groups and parties in Parliament.

"I was having a meeting with leading DUPs to discuss trying to win from the Libyans some compensation for the fact that Libyan semtex, given to them by Colonel Gaddafi, is still being used in Northern Ireland.

"The drinks we had were an offshoot from that meeting."

The DUP is currently the fourth largest party in Parliament but relations with the Conservatives - who aligned themselves with the Ulster Unionists at the 2010 election - have not always been good.

Should the Conservatives emerge as the largest party after the 2015 election but fall short of an overall majority, one option is for them to try to form a minority government if they can garner enough support.

'Steps back'

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland politicians earlier responded reports of friction between First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

On Thursday, Mr McGuinness accused Mr Robinson of "cowardice of the worst kind" over alleged loyalist paramilitary attacks in east Belfast.

SDLP MLA Alex Attwood said: "These are days when people of NI, and our cyclists in particularly, put their best foot forward, but those who claim to lead us are taking further steps back.

"That says a lot about them but it says very little about the character and the ambition and hope that all the rest of us and the people of Northern Ireland have."

Mike Nesbitt, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), said: "I know we are a land of mixed messages but this is absolutely incredible.

"We used to have the ballot box in one hand and the armalite in the other, now we seem to have pretty in pink in one hand and the yellow streak in the other, from republicans.

"It's mixed messaging and the only consistency is dysfunctionality at the heart of government."

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