Sinn Feen supports deal to restore devolution in Northern Ireland – BBC News, BBC News

Sinn Feen supports deal to restore devolution in Northern Ireland – BBC News, BBC News



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Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald (left) addressed reporters at Stormont

Sinn Féin have said they will re-enter devolved government in Northern Ireland after three years of deadlock.

TheDemocratic Unionist Party (DUP) had earlier also given its support to a draft dealto restore Stormont’s political institutions.

The British and Irish governments publishedthe draft proposalson Thursday, after nine months of talks.

Stormont’s power-sharing coalition, led by the DUP and Sinn Féin, collapsed in January over a green energy row.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed the agreement, tweeting it was a “great step forwards for the people of Northern Ireland”.



What is power-sharing at Stormont?

Until three years ago, Northern Ireland was jointly governed by its largest unionist party, the DUP, and its largest nationalist party, Sinn Féin.

They shared power in political institutions set up under theGood Friday Agreement) **************, a deal which brought peace to Northern Ireland after years of violence known as the Troubles.

Under the principles of power-sharing, Stormont’s government cannot function unless it is comprised of a coalition of both unionists and nationalists.

What caused Stormont’s government to collapse?

Relations between the DUP and Sinn Féin had deteriorated in recent years as the two parties were diametrically opposed not only on Northern Ireland’s position within the UK, but also issues such as the Irish language; same-sex marriage and abortion, and how to deal with the legacy of the Troubles.

But unexpectedly it was a row over a green energy scheme which pushed their relationship past breaking point.

The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme ran significantly over budget and at one point threatened to cost taxpayers £ 728 m.

The flawed RHI scheme was initially set up by DUP leader Arlene Foster, when she was enterprise minister.

Sinn Féin demanded that Mrs Foster step aside as first minister during an inquiry into the RHI scheme and when she refused, they pulled out of government on 9 January 2017.

What has Sinn Fen said about the deal?

Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald told a Stormont press conference that her party will nominate ministers to an executive.

She said Sinn Féin was up for a return to “genuine power sharing”.

“I believe power sharing can work but that requires everyone to step up. “

” We need to have an inclusive executive. “

                                                                                                      Image copyright                 Getty / Charles McQuillan                                                      
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                                    Tánaiste (Irish Deputy PM) Simon Coveney and NI Secretary Julian Smith published the deal on Thursday night                             
****** Public services across Northern Ireland have been suffering over the last three years because no locally-elected ministers have been in place to take decisions about matters like health and social care or education.

Many schools have been unable to balance their budgets and thousands of health workers are staging strikes in protest over pay and staffing.

The Northern Ireland Secretary of State Julian Smith had warned that if the deal was not accepted, he would call a fresh assembly election.

Revealing the deal on Thursday night, Mr Smith asked the Stormont speaker, Robin Newton, to arrange an urgent meeting of the assembly for Friday.

However, on Friday morning, Mr Newton said the Northern Ireland Assembly will only be recalled if the political parties agree on a potential deal to restore power sharing.

Mary Lou McDonald did not comment on the timing the assembly could meet at.

She said there is also not yet a time or date for the executive to meet – but she wanted it to happen as soon as possible.

What have Stormont’s other parties said?

DUP leader Arlene Foster described the proposals as a “fair and balanced deal”.

“I know there will be challenges in the deal, not least we need to make sure we have the finances to be able to deal with all of the issues in Northern Ireland that are present at the moment, particularly in and around the health sec tor. “


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‘It’s a fair and balanced deal ‘

The Social Democratic and Labor Party (SDLP) leader Colum Eastwood confirmed on Friday that his party will return to Stormont when the assembly is recalled.

The Ulster Unionists and Alliance are believed to be holding internal discussions now to decide if they will also rejoin the executive.

(What has the Irish government said?

Tánaiste (Irish Deputy Prime Minister) Simon Coveney said: “History is being made today.”

“We now have confirmation from the two largest parties in Northern Ireland that they both are committed to re-entering an executive and establishing a functioning Stormont assembly again, “he said.

” Of course that’s not the end of the story as we want this to be an all-party executive and so I hope that the Alliance Party, the SDLP and the UUP will also be able to join Sinn Féin and the DUP in that new executive.

“It has been a difficult process for many parties, for many individual politicians and their teams, but this now looks like it is coming to a successful conclusion and what is most important about that is that the people of Northern Ireland will have a government again. “

What about the Irish Language?

Earlier, Irish language group Conradh na Gaeilge welcomes the draft deal as “historic advancement but added it” falls very much short “of promises for an Irish Language act.

Mrs McDonald told Irish language activists to” take heart “in what had been agreed.

She said there was “official legal recognition of the Irish language for the first time, an Irish language commissioner and increased Irish language funding”.

She said anybody who loves Irish and embraces diversity should regard the deal as positive, adding “this is about a society that makes room for everyone”.

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                                    The call for an Irish language act has been a key sticking point                             

The Sinn Féin president also welcomed measures to deal with the legacy of the Troubles in Northern Ireland and changes to a controversial Stormont’s veto known as the Petition of Concern.

“We now have legislation to deal with legacy cases, which is to be delivered within days, we have reform of the Petition of Concern to try and end its misuse as a veto by one political party, “she said.

“We have key measures to ensure transparency and accountability to prevent corruption and bad practice and to implement the recommendations from the RHI Inquiry.

“We have strategies to tackle poverty and sectarianism and a plan to put objective need at the heart of a program for government.”

(Health strike) ********************

About 9, health workers are currently on strike over pay and staffing levels in Northern Ireland.

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                                    The RCN and Unison are campaigning for pay parity with NHS staff in Great Britain                             

On Friday Julian Smith said that extra money for workers would be withheld in the absence of a deal.

The health union Unison accused Mr Smith of “holding the people of Northern Ireland to ransom”.

It follows comments he made to the BBC that extra money for workers would be withheld in the absence of a deal.


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