Sinn Fein Chairperson, Declan Kearney made an address today to the Derry and Antrim Easter commemoration in the Loup, County Derry. In his remarks he put the blame for progress in the talks on the DUP and the British government. I have highlighted a key passage.
The DUP and British government remain in denial that the political landscape has changed. They both refuse to ‘get it’.
“The last two phases of talks show no evidence they are serious about resolving the political crisis and re-establishing the political institutions on the basis of the Good Friday Agreement.
“They want the institutions to be up, but they don’t want to tackle institutionalised bigotry, sectarianism or intolerance in wider society.
“In recent weeks they and others have maliciously suggested publicly and privately, that in the absence of Martin McGuinness, Sinn Féin is not committed to the re-establishing the institutions; is seeking to humiliate the DUP; and, is weaponising the Irish language. “This disgraceful narrative is an attempt to deflect away from their joint opposition to a rights-based society in the north.
“Together the DUP and British government currently represent an anti-equality axis. Unless they step back from that position they will continue to cause political deadlock.
“But there will be no return to the status quo.
“Equality and rights are not negotiable.
“This is not about orange or green. None of us have anything to fear from equality.
“None of our children should have to live in fear from inequality or discrimination; from sectarianism or bigotry; and from austerity or poverty, anywhere in Ireland.
“All the children of the nation should be treated equally.
“No section of this society is ever going to the back of the bus again.
“The political institutions will only have value again when they operate in the context of equality and rights.
It is a national scandal the Irish government has repeatedly failed to live up its obligations. As a matter of urgency it should publicly stand up in support for the equality agenda.
“The next phase of talks will only make progress when that happens, and all participants collectively agree to entrench a rights-based approach at the heart of government in the north.”
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs