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Stormont's collapse after energy scheme row brought up long-term issues

Parliament Buildings at Stormont where the Northern Ireland Assembly meet.

STORMONT collapsed amid a row about the RHI botched green energy scheme but the political friction also ignited a range of other long-standing disputes between the DUP and Sinn Féin.

The major sticking points at the heart of the latest political meltdown include:

:: Irish Language Act

Sinn Féin want a stand-alone piece of legislation that would enshrine protections for Irish language speakers. The DUP appears willing to legislate, but only if the Ulster Scots language is also included.

The issue has become a touchstone for a wider debate on respect for Irish and British cultures. The very name is an issue - an Irish Language Act would be viewed as a win for Sinn Féin while the DUP want it to be called a `culture act'.

DUP leader Arlene Foster comments prior to March's Assembly election when she described Sinn Féin activists demanding Irish language rights as "crocodiles" polarised the issue further.

:: Same-sex marriage

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK and Ireland where same-sex marriage remains outlawed.

The DUP has used the petition of concern to prevent a law change, despite a majority of MLAs supporting the move at the last vote at Stormont.

Following March's election, the DUP no longer has the electoral strength to deploy a petition of concern in its own right, though it could still potentially combine with other socially conservative MLAs to do so, if powersharing is restored.

:: Bill of Rights

Sinn Féin believes a Bill of Rights is an unfulfilled element of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. The DUP is not ideologically opposed to enshrining human rights protections but only if, in its view, they represent the interests of all sections of society.

The party has also previously raised concern that a separate Northern Ireland Bill might create a "disparity" with human rights legislation elsewhere in the UK.

:: Renewable Heat Incentive

While a public inquiry has been called into Stormont's ill-fated green energy scheme, an initiative that landed the executive with a potential £490 million overspend bill, the issue that brought down the administration is still causing political contention.

Sinn Féin had insisted it would not re-enter a coalition with DUP leader Arlene Foster as first minister until her role in the RHI (she oversaw its inception when economy minister) is investigated.

:: Legacy

Given the parties' different perspectives on the past, it is notable that quite a lot has already been agreed on how to deal with the legacy of the Troubles.

The problem is while a raft of initiatives, including a new investigatory body, a truth recovery mechanism and an oral archive, have been agreed, they are stuck in the starting blocks due to a small number of discreet impasses.

One of the main bones of contention is the issue of national security and republican fears the UK government would cite that as a reason to withhold documents to bereaved families.

:: Brexit

With the parties taking opposing positions in the EU referendum (DUP - Leave/Sinn Féin - Remain) it came as a surprise that they were able to adopt a joint approach to the issue when Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness penned a letter to Theresa May last year.

The letter highlighted the need to protect cross-border trade links and stressed the need to retain access to sources of skilled and unskilled labour in the EU.

The vulnerability of an agri-food sector reliant on EU subsidies was also raised, as were concerns that a proportion of billions of euro of EU funds for projects in Northern Ireland may not be drawn down.

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