DUP politicians “stand ready” to get back into Stormont without any preconditions or red lines to tackle the issues which matter to the people of Northern Ireland, the party’s Westminster leader has said.
Speaking in the Commons, Nigel Dodds argued: “There is a refusal on the part of Sinn Fein in particular to actually take hard decisions, to work within the parameters of a devolved legislature which actually has to set budgets and work within the block grant and that was part of the problem, one of the reasons that we’re now in this situation.”
Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley said earlier this week she will not impose a framework deal or a timetable to resume negotiations on Stormont’s deadlocked parties.
Mr Dodds added: “We stand ready in this party to get back into the government immediately without any preconditions, without any red lines to tackle the issues which matter to the people of Northern Ireland.”
“And in any survey and in any poll that’s done right across both communities, the issues that matter to people, are the issues that matter to people everywhere: health spending, education, infrastructure, housing, the environment.
“These are the things that people care about and they want their politicians to be delivering on them and dealing with them and so do we.
“That is why we are mystified and why most people in Northern Ireland are bewildered at the fact that Sinn Fein put very narrow partisan political issues above dealing with these issues.”
Intervening, Independent Lady Hermon (North Down) asked: “So what exactly is holding up the DUP in getting back into talks with Sinn Fein and seeing successfully the restoration of devolution in Northern Ireland for the benefit of everybody?”
Mr Dodds replied: “The fact of the matter is that we are no barrier to devolution…and perhaps more pressure exerted on those who are the barrier would be actually more productive and sensible.”
Mr Dodds also questioned to what extent Brexit, Northern Ireland and the Belfast Agreement, the peace process and the political situation was being used by some people “actually to thwart Brexit or to shape a Brexit that they would like for the whole of the UK”, adding: “That’s what’s actually going on.”
His comments came as MPs debated the Northern Ireland Budget (Anticipation and Adjustments) Bill.