Friday 21 July 2017

It's back to square one, as North's strange political bedfellows prepare for tough reunion

DUP leader and former first minister Arlene Foster celebrates after being elected as the Northern Ireland Stormont election count takes place at Omagh Leisure Centre. Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty
DUP leader and former first minister Arlene Foster celebrates after being elected as the Northern Ireland Stormont election count takes place at Omagh Leisure Centre. Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty
Martina Devlin

Martina Devlin

The big beasts in the Northern Irish political jungle remain the DUP and Sinn Féin, both somewhat red in tooth and claw after a bruising election, and both claiming victory. But neither of them wants to see Stormont fold, so it's game on for power-sharing negotiations.

Indeed, Gerry Adams chose to quote DUP founder Ian Paisley: "As Ian Paisley famously said to Martin McGuinness, 'we don't need Englishmen to govern us'." Meanwhile, there was a change of tone from Arlene Foster when she spoke of mending relationships. A return to direct rule is in the best interests of neither party, nor of the electorate, and the politicians know it.

So it's back to square one, the position occupied before the Assembly was collapsed: Sinn Féin and the DUP trying to find a compromise despite trust issues with each other. Politicians who offered an alternative perspective weren't alluring enough - the bulk of voters didn't bite.

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