Northern Ireland

Sinn Féin and DUP accuse each other of blocking talks process


Sinn Féin and the DUP have criticised each other as the talks aimed at restoring power to Stormont continue.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said although some work has been done, there was no evidence of compromise from Sinn Féin.

Conor Murphy of Sinn Féin said the talks were about "process not progress" and a "step change" was needed.

NI Secretary James Brokenshire has said he will bring in legislation after Easter to collect rates if there is no agreement.

Most of the parties reported no progress after a week of meetings.

Mike Nesbitt of the Ulster Unionist Party said it was "deeply, deeply, deeply frustrating".

Mrs Foster, on the other hand, said progress had been made "on a wide range of areas".

Image caption Conor Murphy said the government was "pandering" to DUP attempts to block progress

Mr Murphy said he could report no progress "in relation to implementation of the key issues around Irish language, legacy and equality".

"The British government have continued to pander to the DUP attempts to block equality and to block progress and that's not acceptable," the Sinn Féin representative added.

Image caption Arlene Foster accused other parties of "holding up the process"

Mrs Foster accused some other parties of "holding up the process in terms of their political demands".

The DUP deputy leader, Nigel Dodds, said the real issues were health, education and public services and that "some of the parties in this process have yet to mention these issues".

Image caption Colum Eastwood said the parties were "miles away" from agreement

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said the parties were "miles away" from agreement.

"If this process doesn't ratchet up in the early stages of next week then there won't be a deal," he said.

Mike Nesbitt said the DUP and Sinn Féin could "cobble together some sort of agreement in five minutes" but it would be "worthless" if the parties could not build trust and respect for each other.

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