It’s an Orwellian situation when Sinn Fein claim they “ want to achieve the full implementation of all outstanding commitments made over a 20-year period” in just a few more weeks ; the DUP say they would return to the Executive “ without pre-conditions,” implying they won’t address Sinn Fein’s conditions in advance; and to cap it all, the secretary of state claims there’s “ no appetite for another election”.
Well, Sinn Fein has news for him. In a hardening of their position for Article 50 Day, Michelle O’Neill writes in the Belfast Telegraph:
Sinn Fein has made it clear that all of the outstanding issues can be resolved.
We have no objection to the British Secretary of State leaving some time for that to be done but we are totally opposed to – and we would look to the Irish government to oppose – any new legislation to bring back Direct Rule.
There is only one option which the British Secretary of State is entitled to take and that is to call an election.
There is no legal basis for any other course of action. And while parties may or may not want an election the fact is if the British Secretary of State brings in new legislation to restore Direct Rule that will be an act of bad faith and a clear breach of an agreement between the Irish and British governments in 2006.
Your move….. Anybody?
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London