Thursday 19 July 2018

Trump's style of deal-making would not help resolve the deadlock in North - Varadkar

US President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump and their son Barron arrive for a new year’s party at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump and their son Barron arrive for a new year’s party at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has dismissed the prospect of Donald Trump's reputed deal-making prowess being of use to break the deadlock over powersharing in the North.

The Northern Ireland Executive collapsed in January last year and talks between the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Féin have since failed to see it re-established.

Intervention by the United States in the peace process has proved fruitful in the past, particularly during the Clinton administration in the 1990s.

But Mr Varadkar has cast doubt on Mr Trump's ability to help solve the current impasse, despite the US president's much-vaunted reputation for deal-making, as set out in his own book, 'Art of the Deal'.

The Taoiseach said he had read the book, adding that its basic concept was that "a good deal is when I win and you lose".

He continued: "That's not the kind of deal that is going to work in Northern Ireland.

Leo Varadkar is not in favour of a resumption of direct UK rule. Photo: Fergal Phillips
Leo Varadkar is not in favour of a resumption of direct UK rule. Photo: Fergal Phillips

"So while President Trump has many enormous talents and abilities, I don't think bringing about peace in Northern Ireland would be in his skillset.

"But certainly we are always open to assistance from the US."

The Irish and British governments are planning fresh efforts to reinstate the Northern Ireland Assembly this year.

January 16 will mark exactly a year since the late Sinn Féin deputy first minister Martin McGuinness sparked an election in protest at DUP leader Arlene Foster's alleged involvement in a renewable heat incentive scandal.

Mr Varadkar said the Government did not support direct rule from London but that there were two options in the absence of a deal between Sinn Féin and the DUP - fresh elections or convening the British-Irish governmental conference.

Meanwhile, in her new year message, Ms Foster said the UK government should move promptly to appoint direct-rule ministers if a short final attempt at brokering a deal fails.

"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... 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 Féin persist with their intransigence then the Secretary of State [James Brokenshire] should move to appoint direct-rule ministers early in the new year."

Sinn Féin has indicated it will only return to Stormont if the DUP gives ground on issues such as the Irish language and gay marriage.

Irish Independent

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