As another deadline comes and goes, Stormont is once again left in limbo—with Westminster unclear as to what will happen nextby Siobhan Fenton / July 3, 2017 / Leave a comment
Political parties in Northern Ireland have failed to reach an agreement to return to power-sharing, after months of painstaking and intense negotiations. The announcement came on Monday afternoon in the House of Commons, as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire told MPs that Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionists have not managed to agree to re-enter Stormont.
In many ways, today’s announcement is merely official confirmation of what many have feared has been the new reality in Northern Irish politics for quite some time now. Both the politicians and the public have lost faith and interest in power-sharing and Stormont, will for the foreseeable future, lie empty.
Relations between nationalist and unionist politicians unravelled at a slow but steady pace in recent months.
It all began in January, when allegations emerged that a renewable heat scheme had been badly mismanaged and would cost the taxpayer close to half a billion pounds. The minister responsible for the scheme was Arlene Foster, the DUP’s leader. As Ms Foster refused to step aside while an investigation into the allegations was carried out, Sinn Féin refused to remain in government with the DUP.
Under power-sharing rules, both nationalists and unionists must be in power together in order for Stormont to operate. One cannot govern without the other. As a result, without Sinn Féin’s presence, the structures failed.
A deadline was set by Mr Brokenshire in February for the parties to reach an agreement. When this came and went without resolve, a snap election was called in March in the hope of electing a new government which would be willing to return to Stormont. The sam…