“So, 27 months after Stormont was shut down, the Irish and the British have finally taken a hand…”

Worth recording this from John Downing in the Belfast Telegraph…

So, 27 months after Stormont was shut down, Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney and Secretary of State Karen Bradley have finally taken a hand. The two ministers have acknowledged the huge influence of Lyra McKee’s murder on this new move.

On May 7, yet another round of multi-party talks will open and on the following day the Dublin and London governments will meet in a forum provided for under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

This is the so-called Brit­ish-Irish Intergovernmental Conference which last met in November 2018, and has previ­ously met 26 times in efforts to break big logjams. Both minis­ters will work over the coming days with the parties on how the talks will be structured.

All the parties will par­ticipate. But for now at least there will not be an independ­ent outside chairperson. Success will depend on the feedback given to the politi­cians, especially in the two big parties, by the public across Northern Ireland.

With Sinn Féin having already dropped gay marriage from its list of so called red lines, and the DUP taking the decision to nominate its first openly gay candidate for election, it seems that things are moving in policy terms if not in government.

Much will depend on how the elections pan out. Slugger understands that it was Sinn Féin which had to be pressured into these talks when as Downing notes about both the NIO and the DFA moved in on them at the same time.

It is widely thought to have been expecting a southern election towards the end of last year. Now that it has been effectively slated for early 2020 creates a long space and at least two election contests in Northern Ireland to get through.

That reference to feedback presumably means what they hear on the doorstep. With UI and PIPS due to hit Northern Ireland next year and the health service in a worsening state there may be some motivation to get back in there sooner rather than later.

Finally, there is an abysmal record on policing and public safety that will have to be properly faced down sooner or later. Whether either of the two main parties are capable of providing unambiguous public support or not remains to be seen.

It won’t change unless there is some pressure applied from the public. To take Claire’s potent question of whether we can change or not, I don’t think we have choice in the longer term but to change.

Stormont” by stevelavo is licensed under CC BY-ND

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