Tory-DUP deal adds to confusion as Northern Ireland power sharing deadline expires

04/07/2017
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DUP figure warns devolution could be “dead”

OPPOSITION MPs have warned that the Tory-DUP deal at Westminster has helped to create an impasse in Northern Ireland, as powersharing talks fail.

The deadline for an agreement on power sharing between the republican Sinn Féin party and unionist DUP had already been extended from Thursday (27 June) till 4pm yesterday (3 June), by which time a deal had still failed to materialise, owing to disputes between the parties on legislation to protect the Irish language and over the ongoing cash for ash scandal which brought down the government in January. The scandal saw a poorly designed renewal energy incentive scheme widely abused, costing the taxpayer around £500m.

DUP MP Ian Paisley said that it could be time to recognise “the parrot could possibly be dead” and that devolution was defunct.

Speaking in the Commons, Labour MP Dennis Skinner said: “This impasse in Northern Ireland is complicated by the fact that the result of the general election has meant that the government has had to get involved in a money racketing system.

“The only way to get rid of that is for the prime minister to call another General Election. We know that she’s frightened to death of doing it, because we know the Labour party would win.”

The DUP entered into a deal with Prime Minister Theresa May under which it will supply key votes to her weakened administration in return for policies and a £1bn package to Northern Ireland.

Direct rule, which Northern Ireland secretary James Brokenshire warned was now a distinct possibility, would see the country move into unchartered territory with one of the main powersharing partners excercising rule from Westminster without a functioning Stormont government.

DUP MP Ian Paisley said that it could be time to recognise “the parrot could possibly be dead” and that devolution was defunct.

READ MORE – “Right honourable friends”: 5 crises facing the Tory-DUP government after week 1

Sinn Féin negotiatior Conor Murphy also downplayed the likelyhood of a breakthrough in negotiations in the short term.

He said: “We are in the bizarre situation, I’m sure it’s unique to here, that over the summer time we have to break because the atmosphere becomes too hostile for political negotiations.

“Now we find ourselves up against the Twelfth of July where the atmosphere becomes so hostile that the DUP are even less likely to move on some of these issues.”

Brokenshire insisted the issue could be resolved and the devolution process restored.

Northern Ireland also faces an impasse over Brexit, with exit from the single market endangering border trading between the North and the Republic of Ireland.

Picture courtesy of Robert Young

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