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Nicola Sturgeon's move raises stakes in Northern Ireland

Editor's Viewpoint

The announcement by Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that she intends to call a second referendum in the relatively near future will open up this contentious issue and add more uncertainty over Brexit.

Ms Sturgeon's move is not surprising, as the SNP seems to have independence as its major and unchanging objective.

However, her announcement will raise the stakes for unionism here, and it is no surprise either that Sinn Fein has repeated its call for a border poll.

Though Scottish independence will attract many people, it has its own dangers, including the fact that the country will be at the back of the queue to join the EU.

An independent Scotland would be a smaller entity within Europe, which would give it limited leverage within such a large bloc.

The issues around Brexit are complex, but also very clear. This was a nationwide referendum, the people have spoken, and they have voted to leave the EU.

As in Scotland, a majority of people in Northern Ireland wanted to stay in Europe, but that is one element of the result, and not the result itself.

However, we have significant elements of the result to consider in the province, including relations with the Republic and the realities of a hard or soft border.

Calls for a border poll make the possibility of agreement at Stormont less likely.

The talks are continuing, but they seem like an exercise in ticking boxes, while the reality of a second election and eventual direct rule loom larger by the day.

While developments are taking place - or perhaps not - in high places, the lack of a working Stormont is hitting people hard at the grassroots level.

An example of this is our story today about the woman who fears that she may have cancer but faces a lengthy wait for urgent test results.

Sadly there are many more like her who are being let down by the current uncertainty facing those who need help in health, education and other areas of daily life.

While politics becomes even more complicated and perplexing by the day, it is the people at the sharp end who are paying a personal price for these delays.

This is something which our current MLAs, whose wages start being paid from today, would do well to bear in mind, for the good of all those who elected them.

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