Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald, speaking in Derry this afternoon, has branded as 'disgraceful' the failure of the DUP to come to an agreement on Irish language and gay rights in the North, thus creating a 'very dangerous' political vacuum.
The Sinn Féin leader was speaking at the official opening of Foyle MP, Elisha McCallion's, constituency office prior to a town hall-style panel debate on the future of the North as part of the New Gate Fringe Festival.
She said: "It is a matter of disgrace that we haven’t had functioning institutions now for more than a year and a half.
"And in order to get out of this cul-de-sac, this very dangerous cul-de-sac, there has to be an acceptance right across the political spectrum, that the rights of citizens have to be honoured, that agreements previously entered into have to be honoured and met, that we need to carry out our politics and our political discourse in a way that is respectful, in a way that acknowledges each other in a way that never diminishes each other."
Mrs. McDonald said that Sinn Féin wanted to do a deal to restore power-sharing and insisted that her door was open to those willing to negotiate.
"So I know that An Taoiseach has countenanced now renewed talks in the Autumn time and of course we are a Party of dialogue, we will always talk to others.
"We will always seek progress.
"But these talks when they happen have to be about delivery.
"We have no interest in talking around in circles.
"We need to be sure that the agreements that we have entered into will be honoured and we have to be sure and citizens have to be sure that their rights will be acknowledged and delivered.
"And the DUP need to come to terms with that.
"They need to come to terms with the fact that that’s where politics is at," she maintained.
Mrs. McDonald reiterated her view that the Dublin and London governments had a responsibility to deliver on all of their commitments to the people of Ireland under the Good Friday, St. Andrews, Hillsborough and Fresh Start agreements.
"And of course the two governments need not simply to convene talks.
"They have to demonstrate that these talks are viable, that these talks can be productive, that these talks can deliver in terms of previous agreements, and most importantly and above all, in terms of the rights of citizens," she said.