Irish PM holds separate talks with leaders of Northern Ireland parties

Frederick Owens
June 19, 2017

Northern Ireland has been without a powersharing executive since March and without a first and deputy first minister since January, after Sinn Fein collapsed the administration amid faltering trust and relations with the DUP. Varadkar, who took office on Wednesday, is the first openly gay Irish leader, while the DUP has faced repeated allegations that it has homophobic views.

The UK Government has warned that direct rule from London could be reimposed if the local parties fail to reach an agreement before the June 29 deadline.

"I know people want to talk about soft Brexit, hard Brexit, all of these things", Foster said, "but what we want to see is a sensible Brexit and one that works for everybody". The UK government, which at that point gave up direct rule over Northern Ireland, was meant to be a neutral arbitrator between the parties.

But Ms Clancy pointed out that the reasons Sinn Fein withdrew from talks have yet to be addressed. "And that worries me a great deal about the peace process".

Ulster loyalist activist Willie Frazer visited Dundalk today claiming that he was looking for a face to face meeting with Sinn Féin president and Louth TD Gerry Adams.

In terms of neutrality, politically I think it is compromised by the fact that they are now in coalition with one party.

Adams met Theresa May along with other senior Sinn Féin figures including Michelle O'Neill.

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Mr Adams said they would be pushing Mr Varadkar to raise the prospect of a border poll on Irish reunification within the next five years in discussions with the British government.

Talks are under way between the Tories and the Northern Ireland party over a potential alliance as Theresa May needs their 10 MPs to govern after her majority was wiped out in the General Election.

"We have to change, and if we don't we deserve to die", she added.

Ms Foster dismissed suggestions her deal with the Tories threatened the peace process. Then women would no longer have to travel to England for an abortion and they and their medical carers would no longer be treated as criminals. Yet they are now climbing over themselves to get the DUP to sign up to some form of a deal to ensure their continued survival.

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 her predecessor David Cameron having resigned after his Brexit referendum defeat previous year, Theresa May's days as British Prime Minister are probably numbered too as it is unlikely the Tories will want her leading them into the next general election.

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