Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin has criticised Sinn Féin’s immediate rejection of First Minister Arlene Foster’s proposals to recommence Stormont negotiations. Her statement warranted engagement not immediate rejection.

He said, “In our view, the Executive should never have been collapsed. Given the enormous challenge of Brexit and the other challenges facing the working people of Northern Ireland, the fact that there is still no Executive after eight months is disgraceful.

“Sinn Féin’s Leader in the North called for talks to recommence some weeks back, however, when a proposal was put to them last night they rejected it immediately.

“The ongoing stagnation in Stormont is impacting on people in Northern Ireland every day – and is most visible in the provision of health and education services. Indeed, politicians were powerless to do anything following the recent horrific flash floods in Derry.

“We should remember that Sinn Fein initially collapsed the Executive because of the renewable heating controversy. Eight months later the issue has now changed to the enactment of the Irish Language Act.

“While Fianna Fáil supports the Irish Language Act, we do not believe that it should be used as a political pawn, when basic services for citizens are deteriorating.

Deputy Martin concluded, “The consequences of a stagnant Stormont are too serious for knee jerk reactions. The challenges posed by Brexit cannot be underestimated and it is in the interest of all the citizens in the North that Stormont is reconvened as a matter of urgency.”