May should be called out for delaying tactics on Irish border - Sinn Fein chief

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald Pic: Theclownfromit/Wikipedia

Sinn Fein's president has said Theresa May needs to be called out for delaying tactics over the lack of progress for the Irish border.

Mary Lou McDonald expressed concern over the British government's position in dealing with the border issue.

It comes after European leaders urged the UK to intensify its efforts so a Brexit withdrawal agreement can be concluded as soon as possible.

Ms McDonald said "time is running short" and the "antics" of the British government could not be tolerated.

"From speaking with the French parliamentary delegation, I would have to say that you would get a very strong sense that they are holding to the position that there cannot be a new relationship hammered out with Britain in the absence to the Irish question," she said.

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"It's now clear that these matters can't be allowed to simply roll into October. It is clear that Mrs May needs to be called out for the delaying tactics.

"We know that there is a Foreign Affairs Council meeting in July. We are told that it is to be dedicated to the issue of Brexit. We hope that the format can be used to gain clarity and make some progress on these matters."

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The Sinn Fein leader praised DUP leader Arlene Foster for her recent participation in a number of outreach initiatives.

Mrs Foster appeared at the PinkNews LGBT event at Stormont and made history by becoming the first DUP leader to attend Gaelic football's Ulster Final.

The DUP has been heavily criticised by LGBT activists for derogatory comments about gay people and its ongoing resistance to same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

Ms McDonald said these "signals" and "gestures" were to be welcomed but called for more political action from the DUP.

"I welcome the fact that she attended the Ulster Final, I'm sure she very much regrets the fact that Fermanagh didn't win," Ms McDonald said.

"Likewise, [her] attendance at the Pink event and other gestures of outreach is commendable and extremely healthy and helpful.

"What now needs to happen is substantive political advancement from that because gestures set the scene, they create the right atmosphere.

"The outstanding issues are Acht na Gaeilge [Irish Language Act], the issues around marriage equality and legacy.

"We need to reach an accommodation and we note that the DUP are in hiding because they are on the wrong side of the Brexit debate. We also know that the RHI [Renewable Heat Incentive] inquiry is up and running and we believe those two things, in real terms, are the rationale for the DUP not acting positively beyond gestures, as terrific as they are.

"It is fair to say that we have seen very positive moves from Arlene Foster but that now has to be matched by political advancement and recognition of people's rights."

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