Sinn Fein accused Boris Johnson of dangerous games with the people of Northern Ireland and shameful use of the nation as a “pawn” in negotiations with the EU.

President Mary Lou MacDonald has said the British government is helping the DUP block Sinn Fein’s right to form an executive branch after they win the election.

This comes after Sinn Fein became the first nationalist party get the most seats in the Assembly of Northern Ireland in the recent election.

But the delegated administration has failed to function since Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, leader of the DUP, said his party’s refusal to re-enter the executive branch of power was part of a protest against the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Speaking in Dublin today, ahead of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit to Northern Ireland next week, Ms MacDonald accused the British government of trying to “disrupt the people’s democratic will”.

She said: “We need to respect the voices of the people, and we need to recognize that we need to do very serious work because we are in the grip of the cost of living crisis.

“Mr Johnson cannot play games with people in the north or on the island of Ireland. He agreed with the DUP to use Ireland, to use the north of Ireland, to use Uniatism as a pawn in the wider game that is now being played with the EU.

“This is clearly a shameful tactic and an approach that is completely unacceptable.”

She said that the DUP not only stopped the formation of the executive branch, but also tried to veto the work of the assembly.

Ms MacDonald said: “This is outrageous. The British government has assisted the DUP in this blocking tactic and they must give up, and of course if we meet with Mr Johnson, we will also make it clear.

Read more: What is the Northern Ireland Protocol and why does it matter?

“We want a partnership and a response to the really, very difficult circumstances in which people find themselves. So yes, we heard a message from London and they are brandishing swords.

“The people of this island deserve much better, and Mr. Johnson and his government cannot play these dangerous games with the inhabitants of the north or the island of Ireland.”

Sinn Fein’s deputy leader, Michelle O’Neill, also spoke in Dublin with Ms MacDonald when she said the DUP was punishing the public for “their own public disorder”.

She said: “There should be no delay. We were yesterday, we came as promised to the electorate. But the DUP did not show up and allowed us to form the executive branch and do our job.”

“The DUP is doing two things: they are punishing the public for their own mess with Brexit, and the Tories are helping them.”

This came after the Prime Minister warned that the UK could withdraw from the protocol, which is part of the EU exit agreement, if Brussels does not agree to major changes.

Read more:
Who is Michelle O’Neill from Sinn Fein?
What is power sharing and why is it used in Northern Ireland?

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The government said the requirement to inspect goods moving from the UK to Northern Ireland to keep the border with the Republic open was detrimental to business and fueled interfaith tensions.

However, the EU has warned it will respond with retaliatory measures if the UK acts unilaterally.

Earlier today, shadow Foreign Minister David Lamy said that the government’s threats to break the Northern Ireland Protocol came at the “worst time” due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In addition to increasing economic pressure, Mr Lamy said it was “wrong, short-sighted and ill-considered” to open up disagreements with Britain’s European allies in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

He said: “Instead of finding practical solutions, they are planning a trade war amid the cost of living crisis.”

In response to today’s comments by Shin Fein, spokesman number 10 told Sky News: “The protocol is causing real problems on the ground, and its current activities are undermining the Good Friday Agreement.

“It also doesn’t require community support. This needs to be corrected to protect stability in the Netherlands and the integrity of the UK. ”

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