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Andrew Adonis: Stormont won't be back by October - 'the DUP have evaded responsibility before'

“The great strength of Ireland is that the UK has not been negotiating with Ireland, but with the EU,” Adonis told TheJournal.ie

Image: Isabel Infantes

LABOUR PEER AND former advisor to Tony Blair Andrew Adonis has said that he doesn’t expect the Stormont Assembly to be back up and running by October, saying that the DUP have been “past masters of evading responsibility”. 

Last week, the House of Commons voted to legislate for same-sex marriage and legalise abortion if the devolved government in Northern Ireland wasn’t back by October.

The bill was voted for by the House of Lords this week, meaning that those laws will be introduced in October if the two main parties – the DUP and Sinn Féin – don’t restore the power-sharing Executive.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, the House of Lords member said that he hoped that the bill would “re-establish the assembly and executive”.

“If the principle parties can’t re-establish the Northern Ireland executive, then parliament will legalise abortion and same-sex marriage where matters of fundamental human rights are at stake.

“I am myself a strong supporter, and was part of the majority that parliament will legislate in the autumn. It shows that Westminster is not prepared to stand by and see human rights unaddressed in Northern Ireland.”

The two parties had reached an impasse over the cash-for-ash scandal, and the implementation of an Irish Language Act – a request of Sinn Féin.

Since its collapse over two years ago, the DUP has entered into a coalition government with the Tories. This happened after Theresa May called a snap election in June 2017, in which she lost her parliamentary majority. The DUP negotiated £1 billion in funding for Northern Ireland. 

When asked whether he thought the Stormont Assembly would be set up again before October, Adonis said: “I think it’s very unlikely that the DUP will want the Assembly to be reassembled before Brexit, especially as the DUP are past masters at evading responsibility on these issues.”

He said that it’s “certainly a possibility” that a Boris Johnson premiership could lead to the break-up of the union, and that Brexit is strengthening parties and organisations vying for independence.

Yesterday, Adonis spoke to an audience in Dublin on the subject of Brexit, and said that if Johnson becomes the next Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which he is likely to, it won’t change any of the options for the UK.

“He’s basically only got three choices: 1, to get a majority for Theresa May’s deal; 2, to hold a second referendum on Brexit, and 3, to call a general election. 

Boris as leader creates no new options, because he hasn’t control of parliament. And the great strength of Ireland is that the UK has not been negotiating with Ireland, but with the EU, which has stood by Ireland so far. 

Adonis believes that if there’s another Brexit referendum and the vote is ‘Remain’, that it will put the issue to bed for at least another generation, as other governments won’t look to put Brexit back on the agenda. 

“But if the majority of people vote to ‘Leave’ again, then we’ll have an escalating crisis and an even more hardline Brexit than Theresa May’s deal. That would deepen the crisis and wouldn’t heal the division in the country.”

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