Foster makes a pitch to Sinn Fein to get Executive reformed

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.

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  • Brendan Heading

    Without having had time to digest this in full, on face value this seems like a genuine effort by the DUP to try to move things forward.

    They’re offering the opportunity to agree some kind of progress on language issues, are agreeing to be held to a timetable to that effect, and accept that the minister in charge of delivering it would need to be sensible. That’s an unambiguous offer that they are offering to be held accountable on. It requires serious consideration.

    Drafting any languages legislation requires departmental resources and a proper debate within the democratically elected forum that was established for that purpose. People who call themselves republicans should surely prefer this method of making law to hastily cooked-up behind-closed-doors deals with disconnected Prime Ministers.

    If SF reject this proposal, they reduce, not increase, the likelihood of any kind of language support arrangements being made. It will also show that their leadership have completely lost authority within their party and among the electorate.

    There’s a great deal still missing; we need a genuine and renewed approach to proper, partnership government and a recommitment that parties participating in the Executive need to commit to solving problems collectively and to address the need for reform around matters such as the Petition of Concern. I think any return to the Executive should include such commitments in addition to any deal on languages.

  • Jeremy Cooke

    Arlene unless you have something coherent to say on subjects such as:

    1) Additive manufacturing
    2) GP Robotics and Autonomous Vehicles/Vessels
    3) AI
    4) SM Reactors
    5) Film and CGI
    6) Battery technology & manufacturing

    don’t bother your arse – you are irrelevant to the future.

  • the keep

    That seem fairly reasonable to me and in fairness a fair reflection of were we are currently.

  • I Can Confirm This

    In short – the Assembly is the place to legislate on Irish language law, let’s get back in there and if we can’t agree within 4 years or so there will another election then.

    Makes sense, I mean isn’t that what the MLAs were elected for, to have knotty political issues unpicked in the debating chamber / committees?

  • Brian Campbell

    Just stop paying them for doing nothing,
    That will get them talking again.

  • Georgie Best

    It is all puff, she is still trying to equate Irish the the Ballymena accent.

  • aquifer

    Brendan you are very kind, charitable almost.

    “This is an offer made in good faith”

    If St Andrews was an agreement made in ‘good faith’ someone’s faith is not good enough, as the DUP clearly cheated.

    The DUP’s credit is no good no more.

    Payment up front on the stump this time.

    The DUP know this surely.

    Gerry did not seem to be asking for much beyond an ILA though, which surprised me. I thought he would drag this out for months until the big players needed the power sharing Executive as an international peacemaking exemplar again, or until a botched Brexit Max made an economically successful UI look quite benign.

  • hugh mccloy

    Will SF agree to a DUP offer? very well played though at the same time. It shifts the ball into SF’s corner so its up to them yes or no.

  • Brendan Heading

    If St Andrews was an agreement made in ‘good faith’ someone’s faith is not good enough, as the DUP clearly cheated.

    If you are referring to the Irish language provisions in St Andrews, they were absolutely not made in good faith. They were snuck in at the last moment without any debate while the UK government worked to try to get the deal over the line.

    It is clear that Sinn Féin were not serious about the ILA provisions in that Agreement as they were content to let the issue slide for ten years. Up until now, SF have simply not made the Irish language issue a dealbreaker. Because, for them, it wasn’t.

    Gerry did not seem to be asking for much beyond an ILA though, which surprised me.

    There is a wider issue beyond SF’s shopping list.

    The SF leadership have lost the trust of the grassroots. That’s a process that happened slowly, over nearly two decades. I’m not convinced that SF would be fully committed to an executive even if they got the ILA they wanted (whatever that actually is).

  • Nevin

    This Newsletter article by Sam McBride contains the full speech.

  • batman

    the hold up is the bigotry of the DUP, its not just about an Irish language act, its lgbt rights, marriage equality, bill of rights, RHI, NAMA etc theres a lot the DUP have to over come. #NoReturnToStatusQuo

  • batman

    no SF wont accept its not what was agreed, its the DUP trying to pretend they are the sensible bunch, we want all previous agreements implemented. what will DUP propose for LGBTQ rights and marriage equality? they pay for bus to Donegal.

  • batman

    she cant talk about them as theyre not in the bible

  • Karl

    So the DUP offer is ‘you give us what we want now and we agree to talk about what you want later ‘

    The DUP werent serious when they floated this.

  • Zig70

    SF can afford that tactic. Before the last election DUP might have worried. It will really hurt the rest.

  • Zig70

    AM – not convinced, good for prototyping and reducing rnd costs
    GP robotics – not even sure what that is, AV is still recovering from the death of a driver/passenger mistaking a lorry side for the sky.
    AI – yep certainly. Not necessarily what the media likes to portray but certainly may be difficult to talk to a human in a call centre soon if not already.
    SM Reactors – again, what?
    Film and CGI – gotta have some job from that arts degree. You are highly unlikely to be highly paid. Get the robots to do it.
    Battery etc – toxicity is still to catch the mainstream
    Outside the tech bubble, welcome to the masses

  • Zig70

    Er, no

  • Trasna

    Looks like the DUP have been ordered to get Stormont up and running. Westminster will not take responsibility for the shyte storm that’s about to hit NI á lá Brexit.

  • aquifer

    Why do you think they lost the trust of their grassroots?

  • aquifer

    I suspect the DUP need their own cover for when the border moves to Stranraer. If the DUP ever had depth, they are now clearly out of theirs.

  • the keep

    Yawn I don’t believe SF are fit to be in power afterall their leader tried to cover up the paedophile nature of his brother by moving him around and his party members did nothing about it and as for their Northern leader I am sure in the next few weeks she will be able to explain why her relationship with a senior elected SF member has broken down.

  • Nevin

    “Foster makes a pitch to Sinn Fein to get Executive reformed”

    It reads more like an effort to by-pass SF on language and culture issues.

  • Stephen Kelly

    My your clever but i know what he meant.

  • Stephen Kelly

    He better say no.

  • Stephen Kelly

    Who cares we vote no. Dear me beginning to sound all DUP/UDA so i am lol.

  • hugh mccloy

    it is simple debate the lesser schemes in stormont and committees and get the executive up to run the country or face direct rule with an assembly back in a few years.

    If SF want to abstain from stormont like westminister do what happens there, government continues, elected abstainers dont get wage and party gets expenses to run constituency office

  • The Saint

    Ah unionists “see that agreement we signed sold as a victory to our electorate but didn’t mean the bits about respecting our neighbours”

    Get me a bucket Arlene.

  • The Saint

    If you continued to run stormont without 50pc ish of its members you would undermine the democratic will of the people and run the real risk of that cohort establishing a parallel executive.

    A terrible even dangerous solution suggested here.

    Westminster is a completely different scenario.

  • Brendan Heading

    SF signed up to the Agreement in 1998 which included a commitment to secure the decommissioning of all paramilitary weapons, and had no intention of actually delivering on it. We’ve got a long record of fudges like this.

  • The Saint

    “ach eye but whaddabout demmuns”

    I think they got there but if you know if any arms dumps by all means report to your local police station.

  • Brendan Heading

    Do you dispute that the history of the peace process here is littered with occasions when parties signed up to things with no intention of implementing them ?

  • Brendan Heading

    Because they lied to them for 23 years.

  • Brendan Heading

    So the DUP offer is ‘you give us what we want now and we agree to talk about what you want later ‘

    No, that isn’t the DUP offer.

    The DUP offer was “we accept that there should be an act dealing with the Irish language; we are prepared to try to sell this to our supporters [the remark about Irish not being a threat]; we will agree to address this within a timescale; and we agree that if this cannot be resolved within that timescale that the executive is untenable”.

    it is an offer involves restoring devolved government in Northern Ireland. All of the parties in NI, except Sinn Féin, think that devolution should be restored. There is consensus that a failure to do so will lead to pain and political instability.

    The DUP werent serious when they floated this.

    It suits Sinn Féin to make this assertion but there is no way to prove it except by testing it, which they refused to do.

  • The Saint

    You lost me at your “whatabout demmuns”spiel.

  • Brendan Heading

    I think I lost you at the attempt to draw a reasonable parallel which undermines your argument and which you are therefore unwilling to address.

  • The Saint

    No no, i get what you are attempting to do. When things dont suit unionists wheel it out all the time. Nothing if not predictable.

    Besides I answered your point in relation to disarming. What element of which agreement has nationalism not delivered on (eventually) or blocked by using PoC ? I’d wager considerably less than unionism.

  • Brendan Heading

    No no, i get what you are attempting to do. When things dont suit unionists wheel it out all the time. Nothing if not predictable.

    I’m not a unionist.

    “whataboutery” is used with depressing frequency in Northern Ireland political debate. I hear it from nationalists and unionists alike.

    But what you’re doing is using the term to try to invalidate any argument dealing with the hypocrisy of political parties. It is not unreasonable to highlight cases when politicians accuse others of the things they have done themselves. It’s legitimate to ask what the standard actually is.

    Besides I answered your point in relation to disarming.

    The point was not about disarming; the point was that parties sign agreements containing commitments that they either can’t or won’t deliver on, and the precedent for this was set some time ago.

    What element of which agreement has nationalism not delivered on (eventually) or blocked by using PoC ?

    The requirement to secure complete decommissioning within two years, in the 1998 Agreement, was utterly breached.

    Regarding the process within the past ten years, Sinn Féin made no attempt to push for the implementation of many of the things that were in the St Andrew’s Agreement. I see things such as a Bill of Rights forum, enhanced powers for the NI Human Rights Commission, etc. We’ve had numerous follow-up agreements, but none of them are worth the paper they’re written on because the DUP and Sinn Féin both supported each other in establishing a process where parties would actively mislead their own supporters. Politics here has been greatly damaged because of this.

  • hugh mccloy

    in what way dangerous ?

  • The Saint

    You’d set a presence of accepting a parliament that was not democratically representative. You can’t see the danger of undermining democratic process?
    Potentially setting in train the establishment of a parrallel non official executive ? Happened before you know

  • hugh mccloy

    Thats not dangerous, thats democracy, there is already a precedence set on abstention and government continues regardless. If people want to vote for people to abstain then so be it.

  • The Saint

    But the nationalist people are entirely behind powersharing. Abstentionist policy does not apply to Stormont.

    I would see your 50pc Stormont operation as a recepie for disaster, nationalists would be then justified in establishing a counter executive in that instance and I’d fear that’s a slippery slope.

  • hugh mccloy

    People who vote SF brand of republicanism voted for absence in Westminster and voted for absence in Stormont in the case that Arlene Foster was elected again.

    In the scenario you describe for not taking part in the institutions after a Democratic vote would mean scrapping GFA.

  • The Saint

    That’s exactly why power sharing must work. As far as I’m concerned there is no alternative.

    I beg to differ I certainly did not vote for absence in stormont. I certainly accept I will never send an Irishman to an English parliament.

  • hugh mccloy

    So you voted for SF to take their seats regardless if Arlene was put in or not ?

  • The Saint

    Youll apreciate everyones reason for voting is different this is my view.

    What the DUP do is their own business.

    I voted for the all Ireland party strongest on national unity. If an all Ireland party with a stronger, clearer vision of national unity should come to the fore, I will consider voting for them.

  • hugh mccloy

    They were very specific, if she got in they were not over RHI.

    Now its a different song but what is happening now is exactly what you voted for

  • The Saint

    They are right not to be blindsided by unionism, correct.

    That said I did not vote for abstention on stormont.

    I voted for a party strong on Irish unity.

    I don’t think there was anything unreasonable with Arlene accepting a short stint to allow RHI investigations.

    We are at the point where the unionist mantra “this place is British” is broken and unacceptable and will taint every action, I don’t see it getting easier either.

  • The Saint

    I tend to think that nationalists still very much accept rubbish from unionists. And would be in favour of a much stronger stance on making nIreland belong to both communities.

    i.e. both flags or none or an agreed alternative. all symbols and statues to have a counter balance to tell the full story of nIreland. Place names in their original native (ulster scotch and Irish dependent on local sentiment )plus English quite litteraly the tip of the iceberg . Joint authority with a Government of Ireland minister.

  • hugh mccloy

    You voted for absence in the event that a democratic election elected Arlene Foster.

    The rest of the republican rhetoric is depressing, stuck in the past like old unionists

  • The Saint

    “Old unionist” yes it’s just the old ones.

    I recall tho no other party wanted Arlene as first minister either? Maybe I should have voted DUP?

  • hugh mccloy

    it was not a red line to other parties, it was clear it was to SF. Logically voting SF would mean absence if Arlene was democratically elected.

  • The Saint

    I think you overestimate unionist relevance to Nationalists.

    If that is what you take from my vote then do what you want.

  • Mary Russell

    Listening to and reading all the discussions recently regarding the introduction of the Irish Language Act and claims that it would give nationalist “cultural supremacy”. 

    It’s a fact that since the foundation of Northern Ireland the Unionist community have had several weeks in July and August to March and celebrate their culture. You have the Orange Order Marches and the Apprentice boys marches. The National holiday season is even arranged to coincide with and facilitate these celebrations.  Can you point out to me when a public holiday celebrated a Nationalist only holiday. 

    The culture of Nationalists, Irish Language,  Irish music and dance has always been open to and welcoming of protestants and Unionists. The GAA also welcome protestants, as can be seen from the several who play on County teams, with many more playing for club teams, particularly in the Republic of Ireland. 

     The Orange Order, on the other hand, do not reciprocate this inclusiveness. They make it very clear that Catholics are not welcome in their organisation.So although Catholic/Nationalists are quite welcome to view the spectacle that is the Orange Culture,   they are never welcome to participate. 

    To any unbiased observer, it is reasonably plain to see that Unionism have considered themselves the “superior culture” for years.
    The uproar in Unionism about the Irish Language Act brings to mind a quote “When you are accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression”. This is why Unionism feel threatened by the Irish Language Act. It’s because they have been accustomed to being the “superior culture” and  do not want to have an “equality culture “. 

    Everyone should have the same rights and freedoms to express themselves, their cultures and how they wish to live. “Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves”, Abraham Lincoln.

    Regarding what the Irish Language entails. Sin Féin has repeatedly said that they want the same Language acts as Scotland and Wales, so look at those acts and see what they include that could possibly be a threat to English speakers in Northern Ireland, that did not appear to threaten Scottish or Welsh English speakers or undermine the British culture in either Scotland or Wales.

    “Preservation of one’s own culture does not require contempt or disrespect of other cultures” Cesaer Chavez.
    “No culture can live if it attempts to be eclusive”. Mahatma Gandhi