After 13 months of red lines, hurdles and omnipresent roadbloacks it is now impossible for either party to compromise and face their grass roots baseby Adrianne Peltz / February 15, 2018 / Leave a comment
Barely three days into the fresh round of political talks in Belfast, the tone has soured and all hopes of a deal being struck collapsed today when the DUP announced no deal was possible. After an enthusiastic Theresa May and Taoiseach Leo Varadakar entered the fray on Monday, there was short-lived hope for a possible deal. As they settled into this latest failed round of negotiations at Stormont, posing alongside Secretary of State Karen Bradley and Tánaiste Simon Coveney for a press photo, the weight of expectation has been palpable.
Yet with 13 months of bargaining, mediation and Anglo-Irish diplomatic water under the bridge since Martin McGuinness collapsed power-sharing, the path to any agreement is still fraught with roadblocks.
Key issues at stake
In January 2017 when McGuinness resigned as Deputy First Minister in protest over the DUP’s handling of the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme, the Cash for Ash scandal was perceived as the biggest hurdle to reinstating power-sharing.
Further recent disagreements over Stormont’s Petition of Concern mechanism have also hit headlines in recent months.
However, as discussions have unfolded, the obstacles to restoring Stormont’s assembly and executive have less to do with the scrutiny of government machinations and are firmly rooted in cultural identity.
The Sinn red line
While Sinn Féin’s red lines on Same Sex Marriage legislation and women’s reproductive rights have received widespread scrutiny—with Arlene Foster’s DUP reluctant to either introduce equal marriage or abortion access for women in Northern Irish—both parties blame a disagreement over a proposed Irish Language Act for ultimately ending talks.
Although Nationalist ministers suggested that an agreement had been reached only for the DUP to back out after failing to sell it to their colleagues, Ms Foster insisted this was not the case.
“There was no deal or accommodation. It is unfortunate we could not reach a fair and balanced agreement. One language or culture cannot be elevated above others,” she said.
“I was not prepared to ask the party to support a one-sided deal. Respect is a two-way street and Sinn Fein should take this time to reflect on how it fails to respect our British identity, whether that is our flag, our young people serving in the armed forces or the…