The Ulster Unionist Party’s Chief Whip, Steve Aiken MLA, has accused Sinn Fein of engaging in fantasy politics.
Steve Aiken MLA said:
“Today’s meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference in London clearly caused some confusion within the ranks of Sinn Fein, if the press release in the name of Michelle O’Neill is anything to go by, with no fewer than three bizarre claims.
“Firstly she said that any return to British direct rule would represent the abandonment of the Belfast Agreement. The fact is that it is the people of Northern Ireland who have been abandoned thanks to Sinn Fein’s red lines and refusal to form an Executive. People are crying out for the UK Government to take decisive action to address the crisis in the Health Service and a budget crisis in our schools.
“Secondly, there is no such thing as ‘joint stewardship through the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference.’ It flows from the Belfast Agreement which explicitly ensured that the constitutional position of Northern Ireland could only be changed if the people of Northern Ireland gave their consent. Sinn Fein can forget about joint stewardship, joint sovereignty or any other term they care to dream up, but they cannot change the fact that Northern Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom and that will not change.
“Thirdly, the conference does not ‘allow both governments to co-operate at all levels on all matters.’ It explicitly does not have a remit to discuss devolved matters. Any attempt to do so would breach the very same Belfast Agreement that Sinn Fein claim to be so keen to defend.
“Sinn Fein need to get the message that just because they say something does not make it true. This is fantasy politics from Sinn Fein and Northern Ireland deserves better than this.”