DUP head arrives for talks with UK leader May

Marsha Scott
June 18, 2017

The initiative restarted on Monday, after breaking for the General Election, but negotiations have again been put on ice on Tuesday as the political focus shifted to Westminster and the anticipated parliamentary deal between the DUP and the Conservatives.

Theresa May is "confident" of getting the Queen's Speech through the House of Commons whether or not a deal is reached with the Democratic Unionist Party by the time of the State Opening of Parliament on June 21.

The meeting is taking place to see if an alliance can be created to push through the Conservative Party's agenda after a disastrous snap election left her short of a majority in Parliament.

Because it is confirmation of a blood oath by the DUP's 10 MPs to sustain the Tories in power - the Tories, NOT her - and keep Labour out, for the next five years.

It is expected that an informal coalition agreement will be signed today between the Conservatives and the DUP bringing this loose arrangement government into being.

Some fear the viability of Northern Ireland's fragile peace - which has held since 1998 after decades of inter-community violence known as The Troubles - could rest on the arrangement, with doubts around the United Kingdom government's neutrality.

He added: 'The danger is that however much any government tries they will not be seen to be impartial if they are locked into a parliamentary deal at Westminster with one of the Northern Ireland parties, and you never know in what unpredictable way events will turn out, and we can not know if that impartiality is going to be crucial at some stage in the future'.

"The risk is that Northern Ireland continues to fail to find solutions, and potentially the peace process unwinds", he told AFP.

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Foster's rivals in Northern Ireland, such as Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams, have objected.

An election in March saw the pro-British, Protestant, conservative DUP finish narrowly ahead of Catholic socialists Sinn Fein.

"We made the case to her that we would oppose any deal that undermined the Good Friday Agreement", he said.

Lord Hain, who was Northern Ireland secretary from 2005 to 2007, warned that the situation is "very damaging" at a time when sensitive talks are under way over the restoration of powersharing at Stormont.

With former prime ministers stepping all over the turf, and mainstream media barely concealing its ambition to discredit the new DUP-supported, Tory-led government from the get-go, there is one way that Theresa May could clear the air, give herself some much needed legitimacy, and silence the critics.

"A Europe without rebates, without complexity, with real powers and with unity", he said.

Foster will nearly certainly ask for greater investment in Northern Ireland as part of the deal, as well as guarantees on support for pension plans and for winter fuel allowances for older people.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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