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Republicans refuse to back new First Minister in Irish language act row

SINN FEIN refused today to give its backing to a new first minister taking office in Northern Ireland, calling for the British government to intervene in a row over the implementation of a law on Irish-language rights.

New Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Edwin Poots is refusing to yield on the legislation, which was central to the New Decade, New Approach deal signed last year.

The agreement brought an end to a political stalemate that had led to the closure of the Stormont assembly, leaving the north of Ireland with no functioning administration for almost three years.

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald said that negotiations with Mr Poots had drawn a blank and that it was now “incumbent on the British and Irish governments to act.”

Her party colleague Chris Hazzard, MP for South Down, told BBC Ulster that Sinn Fein would not agree to a new first minister taking office until the Irish Language Act had been implemented. 

“The underlying fact in all of this is power-sharing doesn’t work on broken promises,” he said.

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