Updated: 01/09/17 : 07:16:29
Printable Version   Bookmark and Share Share This

national

Foster to deal with Irish language issue after Assembly restored

The leader of the DUP, Arlene Foster, is calling for the North's power-sharing government to be restored immediately.

Ms Foster told a DUP meeting in Belfast that outstanding issues, like an Irish Language Act, can be dealt with once the executive and assembly are back in place.

The North has been without a functioning executive since January, with the Democratic Unionists and Sinn Féin unable to reach a new power-sharing deal.

She said that if the Stormont Assembly is restored she will bring forward proposals to address cultural and language issues within an agreed time frame.

She also said that if those proposals were then rejected, the Executive would fall once again.

Speaking to her party executive for the first time since the General Election this evening, the former first minister dismissed claims that the DUP did not want a return to devolution because of "the unprecedented position" it now finds itself in Westminster.

"The Democratic Unionist Party has always believed that Northern Ireland is best governed by a democratic, fair and accountable government comprising locally elected representatives," she said.

She claimed further prolonged negotiations to end the political stalemate in the North would be “little short of a waste of time” and warned that Northern Ireland cannot continue without its democratically elected leadership.

She said direct rule from London was inevitable if no agreement can be reached.

"I am proposing that we restore an Executive immediately," she said.

"Put ministers back into posts so that decisions can be made and that Northern Ireland can have a government again.

"We also agree to bring forward legislation to address culture and language issues in Northern Ireland within a time-limited period to be agreed.

"If we fail to do that in a way that commands cross-community support, then the Executive would cease to exist."