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SDLP deputy leader Nichola Mallon: Tell us what compromises were offered in the Stormont talks

SDLP deputy leader Nichola Mallon calls on the DUP and Sinn Féin to reveal what progress has been made on overcoming the obstacles to restoring devolution

SDLP deputy leader Nichola Mallon. Picture by Hugh Russell.

As we head into the Sinn Féin and DUP party conferences, both will be falling over themselves to tell us that this political crisis is everybody else's fault but theirs. They will each selectively recollect the past 10 years and the past 10 months to suit their narrative and blame game. It's important amidst all of this to remember the truth as to why we are here.

The truth is that the DUP have never embraced the Good Friday Agreement and have sought to unpick it at every opportunity and they have been emboldened by the negotiating weakness of Sinn Féin from the St Andrew's Agreement onwards, and their inability as partners in government to hold them to account.

The arrogance and disrespect shown by many senior members of the DUP, including Arlene Foster, is a consequence of ingrained hostility to anything Irish. It is an outworking of their rejection of the concept of 'parity of esteem' which lies at the heart of this political crisis. You'll not hear Arlene say this at her party conference.

Nor will we hear Gerry Adams, in his sound bite of 'no return to the status quo' admit that this was a status quo Sinn Féin jointly presided over, and boasted about, until their grass roots kicked back.

Who can forget the DUP/Sinn Féin glossy advertisements this time last year about how wonderful everything was between them, how their joint draft program for government (which made no mention of an Irish Language Act or Equal Marriage) was 'what delivery looks like' and their promise 'never to abandon you to direct rule'. There'll be no references to this at either party conference.

One year later, after handing the fate of our most vulnerable, those reliant on welfare to the Tories, they are now abandoning all of us to the Tories; and not just a Tory Government, one with the DUP in charge.

It's not difficult to see why the DUP are content with this strategy and outcome.

Sinn Féin however have effectively marched Northern politics into the cul de sac of Tory direct rule, controlled and directed by the DUP, and have now disempowered Irish nationalism completely and in the face of Brexit, leading many to believe that this has actually been the objective, in pursuit of a border poll.

The sincerity behind the claims by both parties that they want to do a deal to restore devolution can be easily established. Gregory Campbell of all people stated publicly that compromise was necessary. Michelle O'Neill said Sinn Féin has 'stretched' itself in their positions. Both the British and Irish Governments have acknowledged that compromises have been made on both sides in respect of the Irish language.

The public, who are paying the price for this political brinkmanship and are all now subject to direct rule, deserve to know the truth about what progress has been made on overcoming the obstacles to restoring devolution. What is there to fear from letting the public see the compromises offered so they can decide for themselves who is being sincere and reasonable and who is not. Unless that would expose their true strategies.

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