SF Minister brands Arlene Foster move 'too little, too late' as Gerry Adams says party 'open for talks'

A Sinn Féin minister has said her party is not interested in last-ditch negotiations with the Democratic Unionists to save the coalition government and avert a snap election in Northern Ireland.

The North's Health minister Michelle O'Neill said the UK Government needs to press ahead and call the poll.

After meeting Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire at Stormont House in Belfast, Ms O'Neill said: "We made very clear to James Brokenshire in terms of what we believe needs to happen and what needs to happen next is an election.

"We are not interested in trying to get into negotiations now - what we need is fundamental change. We believe the public need to have their say."

DUP leader and former first minister Arlene Foster has indicated she would be open to talks with her former partners in government.

On Tuesday evening, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Taoiseach Enda Kenny discussed the crisis on the phone.

They pledged to work together to find a way through the political storm that has threatened devolution.

The collapse of the institutions was triggered by the resignation of deputy first minister Martin McGuinness on Monday.

The Sinn Féin veteran's move, in protest at the DUP's handling of a botched renewable energy scheme, forced Mrs Foster from her post as first minister.

The North faces the prospect of direct rule from Westminster being reintroduced if the fallout between the DUP and Sinn Féin cannot be resolved on the other side of an election.

While the looming collapse of power-sharing was triggered by the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) affair - a scandal that has left Stormont with a £490m bill - other disputes between the two main parties have been reignited by the furore.

Ms O'Neill said: "It's now time for the electorate to have their say, it's now time for the electorate to make judgment on the DUP's arrogance.

"What the DUP have displayed over the last months and years is a lack of respect towards women, the LGBT community, the Irish language community, ethnic minorities. These institutions have to have equality."

Following Mr McGuinness's resignation, Mrs Foster announced plans for a public inquiry into the RHI.

Ms O'Neill branded that initiative "too little, too late".

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams struck a different tone as he addressed the media in Dublin, saying: "We are always open for talks and we are always open to meet. Of course we are."

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