Stormont talks: Rights of all must be respected and protected, says McCallion

Foyle MP Elisha McCallion
Foyle MP Elisha McCallion

Foyle MP Elisha McCallion says the rights of all living here must be respected and protected if there is to be progress on establishing a new Executive at Stormont.

Speaking prior to travelling to London today, the Sinn Féin MP commented: “This week we saw three important events relating to the reestablishment of the Executive and the beginning of Brexit negotiations. On Monday talks in Stormont between the parties and the two governments resumed, the Brexit negotiations between the British government and the EU began in Brussels and the new Taoiseach met with the British Prime Minister in Downing Street.

“Amidst all of this, Sinn Féin’s focus and priority remains the establishment of a credible and sustainable Executive delivering quality public services for all of society.

“Sinn Féin is engaged and working for an agreement. We want to see an executive which can deliver first-class services on the basis of equality, respect and integrity up and running.

“Resolution is possible but implementation of previous agreements is pivotal if people are to have confidence in the institutions.

“The Stormont talks are taking place against the backdrop of the DUP-Tory Party negotiations and the Brexit talks, both of which have the potential to negatively impact on the process.

“Therefore we are going to need more than assurances from Arlene Foster and Theresa May that any deal between them won’t undermine the process of re-establishing the Assembly and Executive or the Good Friday Agreement.

“We want to see an Executive in place which is dealing with health, education, housing and the economy, delivering for all because that is what people want and are entitled to.

“But they are also entitled to see their individual and collective rights respected and protected. That includes language and marriage equality rights, as well as their rights as European citizens to remain within the EU structures.

“Therefore we need to see the detail of any deal considering it was the Tories who undermined the Executive in the first place by pandering to the DUP’s actions in government and slashing over £1 billion from the Block Grant.

“So there needs to be a change in attitude towards how government is conducted here. Sinn Féin is up for that but it remains to be seen if the DUP is ready to embrace a rights based system of government.

“There is also an obligation on the new Taoiseach and his government to step up to the plate to assert their role as co-equal guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement.

“It is fundamentally wrong that Irish citizens in the north should be denied the same rights as those living everywhere else on the island.”