PROOF, if it was ever needed, that the two main parties in Northern Ireland – the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin – are intent on just playing politics was provided last weekend when the talks on the formation of a new Northern Ireland Assembly were kicked for touch once again, thereby opening the door to direct rule from London. Ironically, neither of the parties nor the British and Irish governments want a return to direct rule, but the first step towards it has been taken with the British government being asked to deliver a budget for Northern Ireland in order to keep its public services running.
This is what the politicians of Northern Ireland were elected to do way back at the start of March last and, since then, they have failed for various reasons to come up with an agreement to form a power-sharing executive. There is obviously huge intransigence on both sides and neither the DUP or Sinn Féin want to be seen to compromise too much with their political opponents, especially with their respective party conferences coming up in the next few weeks, as they put party before country.
Our Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire, must be very frustrated, especially as the former stated that there seemed to be a basis for agreement established before the parties parked the negotiations for now. The lack of urgency in bringing the talks to a satisfactory conclusion is worrying, especially against the background of the Brexit negotiations, the outcome of which will have such huge implications for the people of Ireland – north and south.
The Northern Ireland electorate deserves better from the people they voted for to do a job that they are singularly failing to carry out properly.