New momentum expected in the Stormont talks as both premiers engage

So Theresa averted a crash after all. She may even have been taking part  in a piece of theatre typical of the old peace process days.  The intervention of not just one but both prime ministers in succession suggests more momentum will be injected into the Stormont talks, spurred ironically by the prospect  of a  DUP deal with the Tory government at Westminster. That’s even before any outsider is sure it’s done and dusted – apart from the new taoiseach.

The best line I’ve seen so far is Leo Varadkar’s intervention  tomorrow when Arlene Foster meets him. This a bold move ahead of the northern nationalists.  He will look for assurances that DUP deal will not  breach the  impartiality requirements of the GFA, If he gets them we may expect joint pressure from May and Varadkar to seal a Stormont  deal.

It may even be that Gerry Adams is a willing accessory to the choreography. .   .

Meanwhile  at Westminster  the Queen’ s speech will be on Wednesday, with or without a DUP deal

Tom Newton Dunn pol ed of the Sun tweets 

✔@tnewtondunn

Theresa now challenging DUP not to vote down her Govt, with potentially no deal agreed at all. Highest possible stakes brinkmanship.

I bet it’ll agreed by then.  From May’s point of view a DUP deal is  still worth having, for although they  will always vote to keep Corbyn out they can still make a lot of trouble for the government on a host of issues.  And under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act it is now more difficult to dislodge a government as it requires a 65% vote of the Commons to do so. That seems inconceivable unless the Conservative party splits.

Conservative source who briefed journalists said Theresa May was “confident” that the Queen’s speech would be passed but he did not say the DUP would definitely vote for it. He implied that they would, because he said that the the Tories and the DUP were committed to a four-point agenda involving “strengthening the union, combating terrorism, delivering Brexit and delivering prosperity”, but it sounded as if the DUP has not yet given a cast-iron commitment to vote in favour.

But May does seem confident that the DUP would not vote against. The DUP has said it would not act in such a way as to allow Jeremy Corbyn to become prime minister. And as long as the DUP at least abstains, the Tories will definitely win the vote.

Then the Ulster parade. First up Gerry. What a surprise!

We have just finished a meeting with the British prime minister and her secretary of state. And we told her very directly that she was in breach of the Good Friday agreement and we itemised those matters in which she was dilatory or in default in relation to that agreement.

Adams also said that he and his colleagues handed over the resignation letter written by the late Martin McGuinness when he stood down as Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister. Adams said that set out the problems that were holding up the restoration of power-sharing in Northern Ireland.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said that a deal between the government and the DUP cannot be one that gives the DUP power over the Conservative Party.

“We have to judge it on its merits and see what the deal looks like,” he said.

“I think this (Stormont deal) can be done by the end of June, it requires a change of attitude from the rest of the parties and requires the British government to prove to the rest of us that they are not under the thumb of the DUP.”

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long told the media outside Downing Street that they had a “very constructive engagement” with the prime minister but that “actions speak louder than words” when it comes to the government’s impartiality in the talks.

“She did not tell us the detail of the deal, nor did she tell us she had a deal nailed down,” said Mrs Long. “She simply said that they were working on an arrangement for confidence and supply.”

Mrs Long added: “She (Mrs May) sought to give us reassurance on the issue of neutrality but we have to be practical about these things.

“In reality, the government is here simply because the DUP allow it to be so.”

UUP leader Robin Swann said that Mrs May reassured him that the “entire deal (with the DUP) will be made public”.

“One thing we have made clear to the prime minister is that we are concerned that any deal reached is open and transparent and that everybody gets to see the entire negotiation.”

He added that calls from other parties for the NI Secretary to be replaced as chair of the talks is a “side show” and a “waste of time and a distraction

 

Henry McDonald reports that  the new Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has wasted no time in getting stuck in. He seems to know more than Westminster MPs. The London-Dublin partnership is alive and well under new management.

The Democratic Unionist leader and now Westminster kingmaker, Arlene Foster, will travel to Dublin tomorrow to meet Ireland’s new taoiseach, Leo Varadkar.

The Irish prime minister is hosting the leaders of all the main political parties in Northern Ireland as he weighs in on efforts to push them towards agreement to restore power sharing in the region by the end of this month.

Senior Irish sources said they were optimistic that a deal on devolution was still possible and believe that today’s meetings between Theresa May and the Northern Irish parties is part of “choreography” designed to build trust before the main talks next week.

The Irish sources said they expected there would be some “transparency” about the looming deal between the DUP and the Conservatives over putting the Tories back into power.

Crucially, they told the Guardian that, contrary to some reports, they expect the DUP will vote for the Queen’s speech next Wednesday rather than simply abstain.

The Irish government believes May will stress in her meetings today that the British are still committed to the “rigorous impartiality” enshrined in the Good Friday agreement.

As for the delay in revealing the DUP-Tory deal, the Irish say that up to 90% of the agreement is probably finalised but that some of the economic dividends the DUP are seeking from the arrangement are currently being evaluated by the Treasury.

 

  • ted hagan

    I feel some sort of Irish Language Act a comin’ on.

  • OneNI

    “In reality, the government is here simply because the DUP allow it to be so.”
    Trust Naomi to be 100 per cent The Govt is in power because the DUP darent do otherwise

  • chrisjones2

    “The Democratic Unionist leader and now Westminster kingmaker, Arlene Foster, will travel to Dublin tomorrow to meet Ireland’s new taoiseach, Leo Varadkar.”

    ….as the DUP move to outflank the Shinners

    What was that about being in power in the North and the South? DUP beat them to it in the UK then?

  • chrisjones2

    I dont trust Naomi to be anything. I think she is highly over-rated

  • chrisjones2

    When there is a Polish Language Act in Ireland?

  • ted hagan

    Maybe it’s being optimistic, but it might help Sinn Fein swallow the bitter Westminster pill.

  • ted hagan

    Beat them to in the UK then?
    Interesting. I didn’t realise Sinn Fein was interested in conquering the UK.
    Revenge would be sweet though.

  • BERZERKERMG

    I wasn’t aware the Polish community had requested such an act.

  • 1729torus

    I argued that SF’s abstention would increase the distance between NI and Westminster because it weakened London’s ability to be impartial, and I’m increasingly being proved correct as the Tories make space between themselves and the DUP.

  • ted hagan

    I’m trying to figure that one out.

  • Surveyor

    So this is the strong and stable government May has been banging on about for the past 8 weeks?

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Weak and wobbly – it won’t last long, and will end in collapse.

  • William Kinmont

    Please tell me Dup are negotiating for role in Dublin also.

  • William Kinmont

    You really didn’t understand torus did you.

  • Ciara 007

    Both sides have fronted up to each other and both have shown they have muscle. Time now to put that muscle into making the institutions work. It would be something special if Northern Ireland parties could form a strong and stable government in contrast to the weak and unstable governments in both Dublin and London.

  • Ballyhackerer

    Anyone can fly a flag – I think most people would agree that Naomi out debated her opponents but as soon as the flags came out of the cupboards she was doomed. And that is why I agree with Alban Maginness that as far as GEs are concerned politics in NI is dead.

  • Roger

    Was it ever alive?

  • runnymede

    Yes…

  • ted hagan

    Did you?

  • William Kinmont

    Nationalists not represented in Westminster , then Westminster doesn’t represent them. Westminster s legtamacy and relivance is being undermined . Not legally yet but logically. I am not arguing this as a SF fan I certainly don’t want their version of a UI. DUP ties to government further reinforce the logic of Westminsters loss of legitamacy here. For short term gain they are handing the moral and logical arguement over to SF. 1st manafestation of this rejection of SOS by majority in stormont. Cant you see the significance of this.

  • Granni Trixie

    Me too.

  • Jag

    RTE reports today

    “The British government has set a deadline of 29 June for an agreement on power-sharing before it considers the introduction of direct rule from Westminster, or the more unlikely option of new Assembly elections. ”
    https://www.rte.ie/news/2017/0616/883150-stormont/

    Indeed RTE Radio is reporting this morning, there WILL be a return of Direct Rule if no deal is reached (no sources cited, and that may be an error or opinion on RTE’s part, but is presented as fact).

  • Granni Trixie

    I long to see good government in Ni but with good reason people have little confidence in that happening. A good start would be reforms called for prior to election. Otherwise it will be short lived windowdressing. But hey, newly energised DUP come good!

  • TheHorse

    The national language of Ireland is Irish, that’s the same language those Polish people are supposed to know when wishing to resettle and work in Ireland.

  • Reader

    TheHorse: The national language of Ireland is Irish
    You are referring to Ireland(26) of course. Ireland(32) has no constitution and no national language.

  • Reader

    William Kinmont: DUP ties to government further reinforce the logic of Westminsters loss of legitamacy here.
    I think your argument depends on your feelings rather than actual logic. Northern Ireland MPs having ties to government *increases* Westminster’s legitimacy here in Northern Ireland.
    It’s as though you think nationalists are the sole source of legitimacy, which isn’t so.

  • assist

    I agree, get the best deal for NI and get on with it . We need local politicians working for us and there is lots to do

  • anglo-irish

    That’s an interesting thought – and not one I’ve heard expressed before. I’ve always thought of abstentionism as simply a powerful statement of principle rather than a political tool.

  • anglo-irish

    Not yet, no.

  • TheHorse

    A good start for the DUP would be to grab the bull by the horns and realising the only way to save the union would be to make this place as Irish as Cork and as British as Finchley. But like yourself I have little confidence that will ever happen.

  • TheHorse

    Only in a British persons mind Reader. Anyone born on the island of Ireland to parents born on the island of Ireland are considered as Irish citizens by the government of those 26 counties.

  • ted hagan

    So how do ‘Tories make space between themselves and the DUP’ when they are just about to form a pact with them?.

  • Reader

    TheHorse: Only in a British persons mind Reader.
    Which bit?
    (1) The constitution of Ireland(26) does not apply to Ireland(32). That is not controversial. Ireland(26) can of course give citizenship to anyone it wishes, and never needed the permission of the GFA to do so. My own citizenship is ‘British’.
    (2) As for the language. Whenever anyone from any part of the world (except *perhaps* Ireland) speaks to a person from Ireland, they will first try to use English. It isn’t just British people.

  • Reader

    anglo-irish: Not yet, no.
    Change is the only constant. However, note that both theHorse and I used the present tense.

  • NotNowJohnny

    You still not over the fleg thing?

  • ted hagan

    There seems to be an inexorable tide flowing Corbyn’s way at the moment and against May. Soon all this irresponsible DUP pact could be washed away with it.
    The Tories certainly don’t want another election but suddenly this government is starting to feel very much like the Major government did in its dying days.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I long to see the place as ‘Ulster’ as possible…

  • TheHorse

    Yes Ireland can give citizenship to whoever it likes just like every other country however we both know the Irish constitution does not see those people who automatically qualify for Irish citizenship in Northern Ireland as being from a different country. Yes English is spoken in Ireland and most likely more than Irish however that doesn’t change the fact that Irish is the first language of Ireland and the national language of the Irish nation.

  • Zorin001

    I get the same sense Ted, look at the heckling Ledsom took earlier and the pelting May continues to get in the Media. Its feel like the dying days of a Government, their moral authority is shot.

  • ted hagan

    Daft, snide and pointless remark

  • Paul Culloty

    Wasn’t that just re-iterating the deadline that was set once the GE was called?

  • TheHorse

    Loyalists already see it as Ulster, had and still have their own Ulster flag.

  • Nevin

    GT, little interest is shown in governance – including the quality of minute-taking. Folk might have even less confidence if investigative journalists did their work.

  • Paul Culloty

    Will Dublin increasingly become the constitutional nationalist bridge to Westminster, given that the SDLP seats appear to be permanently gone?

  • Paul Culloty

    Nothing new here surely – unionist leaders have been meeting Taoisigh for 50 years now?

  • Dónall

    The new Taoiseach Leo Varadakar has stated that Sinn Féin is the biggest threat to ‘our democracy’. Meanwhile the British Prime Minister is actually including the DUP in decision making for her government. Leo Varadakar went as far to ring Arlene Foster to congratulate her on her election results. It would seem that Leo is anything but impartial. He like May prioritises the survival of his own government and furtherment of his political career to peace and prosperity north of the border.

  • TheHorse

    Can you see the possibility of protests on UK streets if any Tory, DUP deal to form a government is agreed ?

  • William Kinmont

    i dont think they can

  • William Kinmont

    both sides need to have representation. im not nationalist by the way i actually worry that Dup are driving things in direction of Sfs version of ireland

  • chrisjones2

    I disagree…she just repeats strings of platitudes and really should be on the left wing of Corbyn’s Labour

  • Zorin001

    No, its not at that stage yet. However there has to be an abandonment of austerity, it’s a policy which has been a disaster and unfortunately this fire has been the straw which has likely broke the camels back.

  • chrisjones2

    They haven’t but there are 3x as many Irish residents with Polish as a first language as those with Irish so it seems only fair

  • runnymede

    Irish PM speaks obvious truth, tough one for Shinners.

  • chrisjones2

    “those Polish people are supposed to know ”

    That would be illegal under the EU acquis and Treaties

  • anglo-irish

    It’s only “daft, snide and pointless” if you don’t want to consider the wider context – but perhaps my comment was too broad, on a thread which has a narrower focus. I apologise if it was unwieldy.

  • chrisjones2

    Bit like Mormon baptism is it then?

  • ted hagan

    And explain the history of why there are, allegedly, three times as many Irish residents with Polish, or perhaps you would prefer to forget why?

  • chrisjones2

    ” Irish is the first language of Ireland” ….but it isnt. Thats just nonsense. There are so few native speakers of irish its a joke and even the Gaeltacht is in trouble ……

    I am genuinely not getting at Irish but there are those who want to weaponize it like Equality and its all a nonsense. Knowing that An Lar on a bus means City Centre doesn’t make you an Irish Speaker

  • chrisjones2

    I dont think they should

  • chrisjones2

    The ideal here might be for the SDLP to merge with FF and the DIP / UUP with the Conservatives while Alliance and Labour go with UK Labour Then we might get some real politics rather than a sectarian bun fight

  • chrisjones2

    Get real. Labour lost the election ans assumes if it forces another one it will win. The reality is that many Tories who stayed away will flock back if forced to vote again

  • chrisjones2

    McDonnell has called for a million person march on 1 July to overthrow the Government. Thats the elected Government . MInd you he has form before for demanding that vif they cant win power through the ballot they use physical force. I wonder who suggested that to him

  • chrisjones2

    No ….SF promised they would be in Government in both parts of Ireland. Now the UK is on the verge of doing in in the UK

  • Dónall

    How so? Please elaborate.

  • chrisjones2

    I think Arlene should demand pari parsu rights to nominate to the Senate. Send down a few of the DUPs well known democrats and exposure to them will convince the Irish Electorate not to touch the north with a barge pole

  • chrisjones2

    …but the DUP can now do that via London

  • Zorin001

    Do you have tonights lottery numbers as well Chris?

  • Skibo

    Perhaps not in legislation but is in the history and custom of the island. Eventually the legislation will catch up.

  • Skibo

    I hope you realise how stupid that would sound to people, yes to a Polish language act in Ireland but not an Irish language act.

  • Skibo

    Why would the Alliance want to merge with Labour UK?
    So what you are inferring is joint authority with Unionism and others looking to Westminster and Nationalists looking towards the Dail.

  • Skibo

    That would require legislation in Westminster as current legislation infers that the election would be the result of Stormont not reforming.

  • Skibo

    The only way the DUP could guarantee that is to form a coalition and demand the position of SOS. Anything else will be rule by English Ministers.

  • Skibo

    They would not be the first Ulster Protestants in the Seanad.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-24355393

  • Skibo

    I take his comment as positive. Democracy in the south has been a lunge from one conservative party to the other with FF v FG. Any alternative to that would be a threat but a threat that would be good for democracy as a whole.
    I am glad to see he has acknowledged the major position that he puts Sinn Fein in.

  • Skibo

    Has anyone carried out an analysis of the WM17 vote to see how the increased Unionist turnout would effect seats in a new Stormont election? Would the SDLP end up casualties in the nationalist constituencies that would still give three seats to SF?
    Would the effect result in SF ahead of the SDLP in Unionist seats if the Unionist voters reject SDLP in the transfers in seats east of the Bann?

  • Ciara 007

    And the Tories will get a four thousand seat majority I guess?

  • Madra Uisce

    The DUP, Perhaps they could ask the UDA and UVF to lend a hand again maybe dust off the Ulster resistance weapons that were never decommissioned

  • Ciara 007

    It’s unlikely their seats are permanently gone. If another GE election is called they will probably take back Foyle. SF will most likely step aside in SB.

  • Ciara 007

    It doesn’t look like the DUP are going to form a coalition.

  • Skibo

    Oh realy Chris, the highest turnout since 1979 but the Tories stayed at home? Maybe they were taking example from Theresa who hid during the hustings.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    They do, and their version conflicts with the nationalist version of ‘Ulster’. I see this as a shame as we had our own unique Ulster identity prior to partition, since then the nationalists buried their Ulster versions of music, dancing and sports for ‘Irish’ versions and unionists abandoned theirs pretty much altogether, leaving the cultural vacuum to be filled with a mix of Orangism and British nationalism.

    So, my longing is to see the place as ‘Ulster’ as possible; back to our own local versions of music, dance, sports and other cultural markers.

    Alas, as long as Irish and British nationalism are the order of the day this is unlikely to be the case…

  • Skibo

    Ciara could you point me to the last SF MP seat that SF won from the SDLP that they did not go to retake with a larger majority?
    The issue of South Belfast will be interesting. Will the Nationalist electorate flock back to the SDLP to win the seat or accept the general direction of the Nationalist vote and pick a jockey with new colours?
    If the changes come through for the constituencies, the seat itself will be a goner. Belfast will change completely.

  • Skibo

    AG it is alive and well within the Irish speaking diaspora with the Ulster dialect. It is a pity that Unionism did not grasp the differences in the Irish language as their own rather than grasping at Ulster Scots.

  • Eoin Fogarty

    What becomes of donegal in that case?

  • james

    It is somewhat bizarre, if not downright dangerous, that McDonnel is suggesting what would effectively be a kind of coup to topple a democratically elected party……on the grounds that…his party lost?

  • Reader

    William Kinmont: both sides need to have representation.
    Well, how about conscription then? Maybe not.
    I regard either failing to vote or voting for abstentionists as perfectly legitimate decisions. The result however: one is not represented. Well then, be like the anarchists – keep your fingers crossed and hope for protection and support from the law, the constitution, public opinion and other people’s MPs. If you can stomach any of those.

  • james

    Then you share the Republican goal of travelling back in time, AG..

  • William Kinmont

    Certainly better than what we have

  • james

    Would you support an ILA which compels Polish, Lithuanians, Latvians and whichever other nationalities coming here to learn Irish as a mandatory requirement?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Not really, a bit more encouragement for the likes of Linda Ervine and co as well as a thawing of attitude to our lost culture then there’s no reason why we couldn’t have a cultural common ground.

    I suspect though that the harderline fringes of Irish and British nationalism baulk at the idea of a common ground.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Culturally speaking? Enriched?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Agreed!

    The irony of unionist hostility to ‘Irish’ is that they’re effectively ensuring the hegemony of ‘southern’ Irish of ‘Ulster’ Irish.

  • james

    I think it’s harmless enough if a few crusties want to pretend Irish is the first language of anywhere – but to try to legislate for it’s compulsory use is just crazy.

  • BERZERKERMG

    That’s not how politics works. If the Poles genuinely wanted it and saw themselves being here in 50 or 100 years they would form a Polish culture party and campaign for it. It would be treated on its merits in that context. They don’t because they’re not here that long and most have no intention of being here for that much longer either.

  • TheHorse

    Do you believe those same people should be able to understand English before they could live and work in the UK as British citizens ?

  • chrisjones2

    Which will be benign, reasonably honest and preferable to the rotten sectrain bunfight

  • chrisjones2

    I dont give a damn about the fleg thing. Though I think Alliance badly mishandled it in presenting it to Prods

  • chrisjones2

    Or SF can lend them the IRA ones still in store

  • chrisjones2

    In the Republic?

  • William Kinmont

    Fair points but here you can also choose between which government body not just the representatives within. This choice is now being used to make points which have to have some validity.