N. Ireland Politics

Sinn Féin can't demand 10-0 win in Stormont talks, says DUP

A 'No entry' sign outside Stormont's Parliament Buildings Image copyright AFP
Image caption Talks to restore devolution at Stormont have shown little sign of progress

Sinn Féin cannot "demand a 10-0 win" in talks to restore power-sharing in Northern Ireland, a senior Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MLA has said.

Simon Hamilton called on the republican party to "change its attitude and approach" to the negotiations.

John O'Dowd of Sinn Féin dismissed the DUP's claim that his party is making excessive demands in the discussions, saying it simply wanted "equality".

The talks between Stormont's parties have been paused on Sunday.

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire is due to announce the government's next move on Monday.

He has the option of extending the talks, calling another Northern Ireland Assembly election or reintroducing direct rule.

Image caption Simon Hamilton called on Sinn Féin to "change its approach" to the talks at Stormont

The parties are deadlocked on several issues, including a Sinn Féin demand for a legislation that would give official status to the Irish language.

The DUP has said it is opposed to an Irish language act.

'Sensible and balanced'

Speaking on the BBC's Sunday Politics, Mr Hamilton said the DUP wants to see devolution restored through a "good deal" that is "fair".

"We want to see an executive and an assembly up and running again," the former enterprise minister said.

"At this minute in time, that requires Sinn Féin to change its attitude and its approach to these talks and not demand the sort of 10-0 win it's looking for.

"Instead, [it should] work with us together and build on the progress that we have been making over the talks to get a fair, a sensible and a balanced deal that can be supported by all sides of our community."

Image copyright PA
Image caption John O'Dowd said his party wants a deal that would see citizens serves "on an equal basis"

But Mr O'Dowd said Mr Hamilton's "10-0 win" suggestion was "absolutely ridiculous" and denied that Sinn Féin was seeking "cultural supremacy".

"We want an executive built on a rights-based society, which serves all its citizens on an equal and fair basis," the Upper Bann MLA said.

"When you have a rights-based society for everybody, people's rights - whether you're from the Orange tradition or any other tradition - [are] protected in law.

"Devolution, the executive and the all-Ireland bodies that go with it are the only show in town, but they have to represent everybody."

Northern Ireland has been without a functioning devolved government since January, when the coalition led by the DUP and Sinn Féin collapsed.

On Saturday, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said the DUP was lacking a sense of urgency in the negations and suggested there is little hope of a deal by Monday.

The talks process has already crashed through two deadlines- one in March, a few weeks after the assembly election, and another on Thursday - without a resolution.

The DUP and Sinn Féin have both blamed each other for refusing to compromise on some contentious issues.

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