Political news

What could be in a Stormont deal?

Parliament Buildings have been the focus of negotiations since last March. Picture by Justin Kernoghan

What could be in a deal?

  • Irish language act: It appears something akin to an idea first floated by Alliance last September could see three separate bills pass through the assembly – one for the Irish language, another for Ulster Scots, and a third for broader culture and heritage matters.
  • Much of the legacy component of a deal is already contained in 2015's Stormont House Agreement but has yet to implemented. If a deal is done, a long-awaited consultation will follow and funding for inquests be released. One source has told The Irish News there is no statute of limitations or military covenant proposed.
  • A clear-cut agreement that saw the DUP acquiesce to demands for same-sex marriage was never on the cards, and therefore this matter will most likely be resolved either through reform of the petition of concern or agreement from Arlene Foster's party that they will not block legislation when it comes before the assembly.
  • Measures to prevent the immediate collapse of the executive when one party walks away, as Sinn Féin did a year ago.

 

Red Lines

DUP

  • No Irish language act - Little over a year ago, at the launch of the DUP's Stormont election manifesto, Arlene Foster said she would not appease Sinn Féin's demands for an Irish language act, likening the party to a "crocodile" with an insatiable appetite. However, the DUP insists it has "no red lines" and will restore the executive immediately.

Sinn Féin

  • Standalone Irish language act – In the wake of the collapse of the institutions, Sinn Féin's key demand became the implementation of an Irish language act, a pledge first made in the annex to 2006's St Andrews Agreement. Last August Gerry Adams said: "Let's be very, very clear – there won't be an assembly without an acht na Gaelige."
  • Funding for legacy inquests – The DUP blocked executive funding for legacy inquests on the basis that it would impact on the ability of the executive to address the "needs of innocent victims". Sinn Féin wants the veto lifted.
  • Arlene Foster's position as first minister – Sinn Féin insisted after the institutions fell that Arlene Foster could not return as first minister until cleared by the RHI inquiry. By the summer, however, the demand appeared to have been watered down, with questions about the DUP leader's future role being dismissed as "academic" until other issues were resolved.
  • Same sex marriage – Sinn Féin has long been an advocate of legislating for same-sex marriage and adopted it as a demand ahead of the negotiations following last year's Stormont election.
  • A Bill of Rights is sometimes mentioned as part of Sinn Féin's demands – as it has at previous negotiations – but it's never likely to prove a deal breaker.

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