Adams: the DUP is finding it difficult to accept NI no longer “a Protestant state”

Posted By: October 30, 2017


 Gerry Adams has said the DUP is struggling to reach a compromise with his party because Unionist leaders once boasted of having “a Protestant parliament for a Protestant state.”

 Suzanne Breen. Belfast Telegraph.Friday, October 27, 2017.

Gerry Adams has said the DUP is struggling to reach a compromise with his party because unionist leaders once boasted of having “a Protestant parliament for a Protestant state”.

Speaking in Armagh last night, the Sinn Fein president insisted his party was committed to making the ongoing negotiations work and to restoring power-sharing at Stormont.

But he claimed the British Government had “no investment” in the talks process and “no affinity with it”. He also accused Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of trying to “wash his hands of the North” and said it felt like “John Bruton was back in office”.

Mr. Adams claimed he didn’t know if the current talks would succeed but he stressed that his party’s Northern leader Michelle O’Neill was committed to making them work.

The Sinn Fein president said the political impasse could be overcome only by the DUP and his party working together.

“That will present many challenges for us. It also presents problems for the DUP leadership,” he said.

“What we need to do collectively is to accept that a rights-based society is in everyone’s interest. Moving to that position given that their leaders used to boast that they had a Protestant parliament and a Protestant state, is very difficult for political unionism.

“But on the other hand, it is self-evident that this is no longer a Protestant state. And the notion of a Protestant parliament should never have been acceptable. No thoughtful unionist really believes that this would ever be acceptable in these modern times.”

Mr. Adams added that Arlene Foster’s party must recognize “that they can only be in a political office on the basis of a modern political dispensation bedded inequality and fairness.”

He continued: “In other words, they have to treat the rest of us as equals and we have to treat them as equals. Is the DUP leadership up for this? We will know soon enough.”

Turning to London, Mr. Adams said: “For their part, this British Government has no investment in the process and no affinity with it. It is beset with its own difficulties and is only in power with DUP support.”

He claimed Secretary of State James Brokenshire had been “less than helpful”. Brexit was “a disaster” for everyone in Ireland including “unionist business people and farmers who must be appalled by the DUP leadership’s attitude and their disrespect for the vote of the people.

With Leo Varadkar increasingly attacking his party in the Dail, Mr. Adams said the Taoiseach shouldn’t think the rivalry between Fine Gael and Sinn Fein was more important than the process to restore devolution.

“It is not. He must rise above this. It is crucial that he makes the North a priority, not just because of Brexit… but because of the obligations and responsibilities of his office,” the Sinn Fein president said.

He maintained that Mr. Varadkar could play a meaningful role in efforts to restore the institutions.

“If he has the political will, he clearly has the ability and will get huge public support for efforts to persuade the British to fulfill their obligations,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein MP Elisha McCallion has slammed Mr. Brokenshire for refusing to meet the Joint Oireachtas Good Friday Implementation Committee several times.

“This comes alongside his refusal to meet with groups from the Irish language sector. Mr. Brokenshire has no such problems when meeting groups like the Orange Order,” she said. “The failure by the British Government to act with rigorous impartiality as required by the Good Friday Agreement has contributed to the current political crisis.”

The Northern Ireland Office didn’t respond to a request for comment.