Prime Minster Theresa May has recently held talks with the leaders of DUP and Sinn Féin, Arlene Foster and Gerry Adams respectively, in an attempt to resuscitate NI politics, stating: “It is imperative that the parties re-engage in intensive discussions next week aimed at resolving the outstanding issues, so that the Assembly can meet and an Executive be formed.”
After the talks, Foster expressed a desire to try to salvage a deal from the communicative crisis currently holding Stormont in stasis, and claimed that her party, The Democratic Unionist Party, are committed to returning devolved power to Northern Ireland.
Beyond this, she also said that she believes Sinn Féin have made negotiating a deal even more difficult following their Ard Fheis over the past weekend.
Arlene Foster claims that her opposition were guilty of “glorifying terrorism,” this comment was made in response to the fact that a number of SF party members could be heard cheering as Foyle MP Elisha McCallion eulogised former Deputy-First Minster, Martin McGuinness, as a proud member of the IRA.
In Foster’s view, the DUP “are talking about a deal unionism and nationalism can live with,” whereas Sinn Féin “are talking about nationalism and that’s it.”
Gerry Adams, upon returning from his meeting with Prime Minister May, was quick to defend his faction, maintaining: “I didn’t see any glorification of anyone at the Ard Fheis.”
He also took this opportunity to tackle the reductive sectarian categorisation present throughout great swathes of NI politics, claiming: “I also, standing outside the office of the British Prime Minister, want to refute the use of this term ‘terrorism’.”
“Pejorative terms like that – which are about the sons and daughters of families, husbands and wives of families, who happened to serve in the Irish Republican Army and who died in the conflict – I don’t use those terms.”
“So let’s have a wee bit of sense about this.”
Theresa May summarised the talks by stating that both parties “expressed their commitment” to re-establishing discussion between the parties.
PM May also stated that: “From our discussions, it is clear that the issues dividing the parties are relatively small in number, focusing mainly around culture, legacy, identity and the future stability of the devolved institutions.”
Whilst the discrepancies between the parties may be small in number, traversing topics of culture and identity within Stormont, and to an extent throughout Northern Ireland, has proved to be exceedingly difficult in the past.
It’s uncertain whether or not leaders will “have a wee bit of sense” when they return to debate over Northern Ireland’s future, but for many NI residents, progression beyond the pseudo-parley mentality of decades past is key in solidifying stability.