DUP and Sinn Fein urged to ‘keep powersharing show on the road’

The new leader of the Ulster Unionist Party has urged the DUP and Sinn Fein to keep the “show on the road” in terms of the powersharing government in Northern Ireland.

Days ahead of DUP leader Edwin Poots’ expected unveiling of his new ministerial team, and amid speculation over whether Sinn Fein will support the nomination of new ministers without a commitment over Irish language legislation, Doug Beattie said the Executive “has to last”.

There is also speculation that the next Assembly elections may be called before they are due to take place in May 2022.

“It (the Executive) has to last, it has got to last for the people of this part of the United Kingdom, our Executive needs to keep going,” Mr Beattie told RTE’s The Week In Politics programme.

“So there’s an onus on the DUP, and there is an onus on Sinn Fein also to be generous with this because we are in a degree of instability, and they need to carry on and keep the Executive on the tracks until the elections in May next year.

“Then in May next year people will be able to vote as to what way they want to go forward from that moment onwards. But the last thing we need is for the Executive to collapse, for there to be even more instability here in Northern Ireland.

“Our people have suffered enough, it’s time politicians just held their ground, gave a little bit to each other, were a little bit more gracious and just make sure that we can provide for the people of Northern Ireland, particularly that we are coming off a pandemic which has absolutely decimated our lives.

“The DUP and Sinn Fein really need to do a bit of mature politics here and just keep this show on the road.”

DUP leadership
DUP leader Edwin Poots with Ian Paisley Jnr (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mr Beattie described a “tumultuous couple of weeks in unionism” but said the UUP had gone about their leadership handover in a “very different way” to the DUP.

“We have done everything face to face with our previous leader and then we have gone out to the media… and we’ve put our message across,” he said.

“We have done a smooth transition.

“Unfortunately with the DUP it has been a bit more fractious and that’s not good for Northern Ireland… we need stability here more than anything else.

“As for anybody who wants to come to the Ulster Unionist Party… we are an open party, we are a welcoming party… but it’s not a home for people who just have a different view, or want to come and settle in here. You have to share our vision for the future, you have to share our values.

“But I’ll not take anyone on board just as a home because they are disgruntled with the DUP.”

Mr Beattie said he will speak to everyone, including the Irish Government, the EU and the UK Government.