Northern Ireland political parties resume talks to form government

Northern Ireland political parties resume talks to form government

Coalition talks between Northern Ireland’s political parties are set to resume today as London seeks to break an 800-day impasse

Wo27 NI talks

Photo: Reuters

Coalition talks between Northern Ireland’s political parties are set to resume today as London seeks to break an 800-day impasse that has left the region without a functioning government.

The previous government, a power-sharing coalition between the pro-UK Democratic Unionist Party and pro-Ireland Séin Fein, collapsed due to divisions over language policy and a botched green energy scheme for heating.

Growing uncertainty over Brexit has exacerbated the situation. Both parties are expected to clash over the DUP’s critical role in Theresa May’s coalition government, particularly whether Westminster can be an independent mediator if talks remain protracted.

Last month, DUP leader Arlene Foster repeated an offer to pursue a two-track approach: reopening a devolved government to provide essential services, whilst holding separate talks on more controversial issues such as language and same-sex marriage. UK local elections in the past week saw have been a catalyst for talks, leading to a slight rise in support for the DUP but steady support for Séin Fein.

Therefore, both sides are expected to agree to resume essential services and form government, as the impasse continues to impact health, education and law enforcement services. However, talks on areas of disagreement do pose a risk to political stability over the medium-term.

Delve deeper: Trouble in Ireland: Northern Ireland’s Political Deadlock

Wake up smarter with an assessment of the stories that will make headlines in the next 24 hours. Download The Daily Brief.