Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald has said DUP leader Arlene Foster is someone her party could “do business” with.
The party’s newly elected leader made the comments in an interview with Sky’s Ireland correspondent David Blevins, following her election at a specially-arranged ard fheis on Saturday.
Asked about the state of negotiations to restore the power-sharing executive in Northern Ireland, Mrs McDonald said “the issues are clear, the issues are resolvable”.
“I mean, quite bluntly, that it is not a sustainable position to argue that citizens can have marriage equality in the southern jurisdiction in Ireland, and in England and Wales and in Scotland. And somehow the north of Ireland remains cut off from this. And citizens living in the north of Ireland are denied that basic right.
“I hope there will be an agreement and yes I think we can do business with Arlene Foster.”
The new Sinn Fein president also reflected on the potential threat Brexit poses to the peace process in Northern Ireland.
“I don’t see us returning to the circumstances that fed such a long, protracted and deep conflict. No I don’t,” she said.
“However I am aware that on the ground in the north over the past year or so there has been a level of polarisation that I regard as very dangerous.”
On Irish unity, Mrs McDonald said it was something her party aimed to secure a referendum on, which it hoped to win, but that this should be done in “an atmosphere of consensus. The maximum consensus possible”.
She was also quizzed about her thoughts on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, with host Blevins mentioning he had described her as “cranky”.
Asked for one word to described Mr Varadkar, Mrs McDonald settled on “smarmy”, noting the reference he had made to Love Actually during a visit to Downing Street, and his penchant for colourful socks.
Belfast Telegraph Digital