Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: No sign of Stormont return any time soon

Editor's Viewpoint

It is good that the Secretary of State is trying to inject some life into the efforts to get devolved government returned to Stormont, but most people regard the move as too little, far too late, and unlikely to bring about any positive movement for many months to come.

For all their protestations, it is clear that the DUP and Sinn Fein - who by their numerical advantage hold all the other parties to ransom - have little interest in going back into power-sharing any time soon.

The DUP is enjoying its stranglehold on the Tory Government, while Sinn Fein will not countenance a return to Stormont this side of a public inquiry report on the RHI scandal, which is embarrassing the DUP, and until Brexit is resolved.

The leaders of the main Churches have also been active in talking to the parties and the Secretary of State, and they described the discussions with Mrs Bradley as positive and constructive. No doubt they have put forward a clear vision to all the politicians of how the absence of government is hurting the entire population and delaying vital decisions, but are their words really being listened to?

However, Brexit continues to overshadow everything. The Republic's Foreign Minister Simon Coveney struck an optimistic note that a deal was 90% negotiated, but the border issue remains the sticking point. The suggestion by leading Brexiteers that customs posts could operate at the ports has set unionists' teeth on edge, fearing any compromise could weaken Northern Ireland's position within the UK.

Brexit has been a disaster for Northern Ireland - not just because a majority of people in the province want to stay in the EU - but because it has made the border a live issue again 20 years after we believed the constitutional position had been settled.

Now we have a warning that Brexit could literally be bad for our health. It has come from a distinguished group of cancer experts, who point out that much of the research into combatting the disease is being conducted by non-EU nationals, and they may well leave when Brexit is finalised.

The debit column of Brexit seems to be filling up much faster than the credit side.

If the parties here refuse to get back to Stormont, perhaps the formation of a civic forum-type body, including political representatives, could advise the Secretary of State and civil servants on how to alleviate day-to-day issues until devolution is restored.

Prince's Trust deserves our support for its worthy work

Today we carry the stories of how two young women turned their lives around in remarkable fashion. One was shot nine times by loyalist paramilitaries but five years later got the keys to her new beauty business. The other had tried to take her life 100 times but now feels glad to be alive, helps others who feel suicidal and wants to be a social worker.

They have shown tremendous strength of character to drag themselves up from the depths of despair, but it was only possible because someone cared about them and offered them help. The Prince's Trust was their lifeline and deserves widespread support for its invaluable work.

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