Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: All this sudden positivity begs the question...why has it taken three long years for parties to reach agreement?

The proposals published by the London and Dublin governments are comprehensive, but the sections dealing with the Irish language and Ulster-Scots seem largely unchanged from the three-strand approach first floated in 2018
The proposals published by the London and Dublin governments are comprehensive, but the sections dealing with the Irish language and Ulster-Scots seem largely unchanged from the three-strand approach first floated in 2018

Editor's Viewpoint

It is 1,089 days since we last had a functioning government, but the mood music from the main camps of the DUP and Sinn Fein is now positive. This may make many people wonder what the three-year hiatus was about in the first place.

The proposals published by the London and Dublin governments are comprehensive, but the sections dealing with the Irish language and Ulster-Scots seem largely unchanged from the three-strand approach first floated in 2018.

This prompts the question as to why this notorious "red line" has dogged negotiations for so long, given that an agreement seems to have been reached so blithely yesterday.

The proposals for the reform of the petitions of concern (or the return to their original purpose) are welcome, but not awe-inspiring, given that the current Stormont Assembly arithmetic means that no party can launch a petition of concern unaided anyway.

The most welcome parts of the deal lie in the financial provisions, including the recruitment of 900 new nurses who will enjoy the long-overdue parity with their colleagues in the rest of the UK, as well as increased funding for our mental health crisis, and more help for couples using IVF.

The commitment to tackling our hospital waiting lists - the worst in the UK - is being treated with more scepticism, with suggestions that it could be the summer before there will be a noticeable decrease in numbers.

Sadly, the victims and survivors of the Troubles are bringing up the rear again, with legacy issues due to be addressed within 100 days. The joint communique pointedly neglected to mention that it will be a shameful 1,994 days after it was first promised.

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We have been here before, and the proof of yesterday's deal will be judged by its durability. Sadly, good faith has been too often in short supply in Stormont.

We must hope that, on this occasion, our tendency to create more catastrophes is misplaced.

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