Here’s a key bit from Arlene Foster’s New Year message;
Many of us will use the New Year to make resolutions. Just as we will personally set ourselves goals as to how we hope to improve our lives, so too we should seek to bring new energy and ambition to our politics.
Northern Ireland has in effect been without a government for almost a year. That is unacceptable and simply unsustainable. Every day, we are seeing the impact of having no government. No Budget. No progress on the recommendations contained in the Bengoa Report. And no advancement of essential reforms in education.
This cannot continue.
I and my Party remain ready to return to government immediately without the need for any pre-conditions to be met. By contrast, Sinn Fein now refuse to even engage in talks. They tell us that they want to see devolution return but their actions suggest otherwise. Their long list of red lines are prioritised over jobs, schools and hospitals. What’s hurting hardworking people is the absence of a government not the absence of language legislation. Recent rounds of talks have been bedeviled by the setting of pre-conditions by Sinn Fein. Let us re-enter talks with one shared pre-condition, – that we will redouble our efforts to restore devolution and start taking the decisions that the people of Northern Ireland so desperately need. Let’s set ourselves a short time frame. And let’s do it here at home rather than in some fancy English stately home.
The DUP prides itself on being the people’s party. We want what is best for all of the people of Northern Ireland. I still believe that the best way to deal with the issues facing our society is for Stormont to be back up and running with locally elected and accountable politicians taking decisions on the issues that matter to people across our Province. A return to Direct Rule would be an inferior alternative but it would be a government. But the people of Northern Ireland deserve a government and if Sinn Fein persist with their intransigence then the Secretary of State should move to appoint Direct Rule Ministers early in the New Year.
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs