The DUP Leader, Arlene Foster has made a pitch to Sinn Fein in a bid to restore devolution with a proposal to deal with the Irish Language Act. Speaking tonight she said;
How then do we resolve these issues and establish the Executive and have the Northern Ireland Assembly sitting to do the business the people elected us to do?
Well we can enter into another round of talks. Parties can state and restate their positions. All the while waiting lists will get longer, investment opportunities will be missed and Northern Ireland’s voice will continue to absent from Brexit negotiations.
Or we can try something different.
For our part, it is clear another prolonged talks process is little short of a waste of time unless there is some new thinking.
I am putting forward a common sense solution that can give us the Executive we need and resolve outstanding issues.
I am proposing that we restore an Executive immediately. Put Ministers back into posts so that decisions can be made and that Northern Ireland can have a government again.
But we also agree to bring forward legislation to address culture and language issues in Northern Ireland within a time-limited period to be agreed. If we fail to do that in a way that commands cross community support then the Executive would cease to exist.
This is an offer made in good faith with Northern Ireland and its people’s best interest at heart.
Let’s not permit our political disagreements to get in the way of what needs to be done right now in striking a Budget. In pressing ahead with much needed health reforms. And in attracting jobs and investment.
Given the size of Northern Ireland and the scale of the challenges we face, we will only succeed if we all move forward together. Agreements can only be achieved when there is recognition that the support of both unionists and nationalists is required if they are to stick. That is how we succeeded previously.
A winners and losers approach to discussions will only guarantee failure in both the short and long-term. If we are to work together successfully then trust will have to be built between the parties in the Assembly.
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs