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After a dramatic election, the DUP and Sinn Féin are to talk today about reviving Stormont

“All the old certainties are gone,” Sinn Féin president mary Lou McDonald said.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O'Neill (left) and DUP general election candidate Emma Little-Pengelly.
Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O'Neill (left) and DUP general election candidate Emma Little-Pengelly.
Image: Niall Carson

Updated Dec 16th 2019, 8:30 AM

THE DUP AND Sinn Féin are due to resume talks today aimed at resuming a power-sharing executive at Stormont, days after facing each other off in various close-knit races in the general election.

The Stormont executive dissolved in January 2017 after the power-sharing agreement between the DUP and Sinn Fein collapsed over the Renewable Heat Incentive controversy, dubbed the “cash-for-ash” scandal.

The talks have been confidential, but it’s widely understood that the disagreements are mainly over Sinn Féin calling for the establishment of an Irish Language Act, and for Arlene Foster to stand aside as First Minister of Northern Ireland over her role in ‘cash-for-ash’. 

On Monday, Foster told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme that she hoped that the talks could be a success. 

Foster has said that she is entering the talks “in a spirit of looking to find accommodation and looking to find a way forward that recognises that we are a divided society and one that works for everybody”.  

The UK government is meant to chair the discussions between the North’s two main parties, but Sinn Féin has criticised this as an unfair arrangement as the DUP had been propping up a Tory government since the June 2017 snap general election. 

But as the DUP’s role is significantly less influential now, this will be less of an issue.

In last Thursday’s election, the DUP reduced their Westminster seats from 10 to 8, and Sinn Féin held their 7 seats (although they have a policy of abstentionism). The SDLP won two seats, and Alliance won one.  

MLAs have been getting paid £14.9 million since the Executive collapsed almost three years ago; their salaries have been partially cut to from nearly £50,000 to £35,888.

On Friday, Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald said that her party wants to see “a successful conclusion of the talks established by the two governments and the political institutions restored on a credible and a sustainable basis”.

“I and our negotiating team stand ready to re-enter talks with the two governments and the other parties on Monday and we will work towards securing agreement on outstanding issues.

“We need a new kind of politics, a new Assembly and a new Executive, which is underpinned by the resources to deliver quality public services.

This was an historic election and a defining moment in our politics. Brexit has changed the political landscape in Ireland, in Britain and in Europe. All the old certainties are gone.
House of Commons
Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland programme this morning, the DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson said that his party would still be able to influence Boris Johnson’s Brexit policy. 
“He’s got a clear majority in the House of Commons,” Donaldson said. “But that doesn’t mean parties can’t have their influence,” he said. 
“We can still have an input and still have a voice.”
Donaldson also said that he had confidence in Arlene Foster’s leadership of the party following last week’s election. 
“Our party leader will be leading our team into negotiations today,” he said. 
With reporting from Dominic McGrath

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