Stormont talks: Urgent need to restore devolution says Coveney

19 Juin, 2017, 15:32 | Author: Claudine Rigal
  • Brexit negotiations

Mrs May's deal with the DUP threatened her government's role as "an honest broker" between unionists and republicans in Belfast, wrote Jonathan Powell, the British government's chief negotiator in Ireland from 1997 to 2007, in the Guardian newspaper on Sunday. However, May's failed election gamble put her in a governing coalition with the North's nationalist Democratic Union Party, a party with historically adverse ties to the Republic. "(Davis) has shown a "huge evolution", a Western diplomat said, adding that the Brexit minister seemed to be well on top of his brief. However the DUP backed the leave option. "However, we need to do it in a way that respects the specific circumstances of Northern Ireland, and, of course, our shared history and geography with the Republic of Ireland".

"Everyone fears these talks of a hard border", he said, "but I agree it must be a soft border that will ensure the goods from both countries can move easily between them".

British Prime Minister Theresa May is edging closer to clinching a deal to stay in power with the support of Northern Irish kingmakers but faces a battle over Brexit just days before divorce talks are due to begin.

Reaffirming the Communist Party of Ireland's "total opposition" to European Union membership, Mr McCartan argued that the issue was very problematic for Sinn Fein, which changed its position to support European Union membership in Britain's referendum past year.

While Sinn Féin will not be best pleased that the DUP will have such a pivotal role in facilitating the Brexit process, given that the majority of voters in Northern Ireland voted to remain in the European Union in last year's referendum, their influence on the British government may help make it a softer exit, which would suit the Republic of Ireland better.

The 1998 Good Friday Agreement commits the United Kingdom and Irish Governments to demonstrate "rigorous impartiality" in all their dealings with the different groups in Northern Ireland.

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"The danger is that however much any government tries, they will not be seen to be impartial if they are locked into a parliamentary deal, at Westminster, with one of the Northern Ireland parties".

Through the 1970s-1990s, the DUP opposed successive accords that proposed Dublin's involvement in power-sharing arrangements, including the Good Friday Agreement, which ended decades of conflict and has maintained peace across Ireland.

With negotiations between the two parties ongoing, and a deal to form a minority government reportedly 95 per cent complete, an agreement is expected to be reached next week.

The meeting between Foster and Varadkar highlighted issues that have made some British politicians wary of a deal with the DUP.

Founded in 1971, the Belfast-based DUP has always been a strong advocate of Northern Ireland remaining part of the UK.

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