Suzanne Breen RFÉ 1 July 2017

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Martin Galvin speaks to award-winning journalist, Suzanne Breen, via telephone from Belfast, who updates us on and provides her spot-on analysis of the most critical issues now occurring in the occupied Six Counties of Ireland. (begins time stamp ~ 30:23)

Martin:   With us on the line we have Suzanne Breen, she’s the award-winning Irish journalist based in Belfast. She has written, as I said, with the Sunday Tribune, with the Irish Times – she now contributes pieces – she’s been breaking stories once again – for the Belfast Telegraph, the Irish Independent among others on the talks that are going on at Stormont. Suzanne, welcome back to Radio Free Éireann.

Suzanne:  Thank you.

Martin:  Okay. We played that song for you in Irish because Irish is one of the sticking points, I believe, in the negotiations but just to bring our readers up-to-date: There’ve been two sets of negotiations going on. First of all, Stormont itself – the Executive in which Sinn Féin and the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) which for ten years were the major partners and parties or the leading parties – that broke down. There was an election. They weren’t reconstituted. But in the interim Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, announced another Westminster election and she thought that that would give her an increased majority and a much freer hand. And instead, when the votes were counted she found that she was short of the majority, she needed a number of votes from another party and the DUP negotiated with her – they had ten seats. They negotiated with her and they’re due to get a billion pounds or more back to The North of Ireland together with side deals perhaps on issues like parades or legacy – we’ll wait to see what happens. Suzanne, they then were, the DUP, was then to go back to Stormont to negotiate with Sinn Féin and see if they could get a deal to bring all that money back to the Executive to be distributed within the Six C0unties and there was a deadline for that deal last Thursday. What happened and where are we now in those negotiations between those former partners, ten-year long partners, the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin?

Suzanne:  

James Brokenshire flies back to London as another deadline is missed. Cartoon: Ian Knox Source: The Irish News Date: 30 June 2017

Well the deadline on Thursday wasn’t met and the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire, then extended the deadline and he gave the DUP and Sinn Féin another three days to try and reach a deal. The new deadline is Monday but it doesn’t look like there is going to be an agreement by Monday. In fact you know, it would be an odds-on shot for there not to be a deal – very, very unlikely. There is no sign that either of the parties are willing to make the compromises needed that would return them to power in Stormont. So the focus will, on Monday, go to James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State, about what he is going to do. He can either extend the deadline further, perhaps give them an autumn deadline, he can reintroduce some form of direct rule from London or he could call another snap Assembly election. An extended deadline, at the moment, would look like being the most likely option.

Martin:   Okay. James Brokenshire, of course, is the British secretary – one of those individuals who gets sent to Ireland by a British prime minister to ‘audition’ for a job that they would rather have, some place they’d rather be – he’s going to make that statement in Westminster on Monday. Suzanne, you have the DUP and Sinn Féin – they were partners together for ten years, Martin McGuinness/Ian Paisley, Martin McGuinness with Peter Robinson – what are the issues that divide them now that you know, they worked together for ten years, why is it, what are the issues that separate them now and stop them from coming together particularly when, you know, you have this sort of bribe of a billion pounds that they can distribute if they come together and reconstitute the Executive?

Suzanne: Well the problems perhaps really lie in personalities and not in political issues. Sinn Féin had accepted a lot of things that it didn’t like for the ten years that it was in government with the DUP. But it found, near Christmas of last year, it found Arlene Foster’s attitude impossible in Stormont. The party found her arrogant and there was a scandal over a renewable heat energy scheme and they didn’t feel that Arlene Foster replied properly and responded properly and showed the humility that was necessary during that scandal. Sinn Féin’s grassroots got very angry and basically demanded that the party step outside Stormont and bring it down if necessary. And that happened. So now Sinn Féin are demanding an Irish Language Act. This Irish Language Act was initially promised to them ten years ago by the Blair government in the 2006 St. Andrews Agreement. It didn’t happen. But for ten years Sinn Féin turned a blind eye to the fact that it didn’t happen and stayed and remained in government. Now that the party has come out of Stormont it’s base are demanding gains if it goes back in and one of the demands that Sinn Féin is making is over the Irish language.

Now the issue of the Irish language came to prominence when, just before Christmas, the DUP stopped a fifty thousand pound grant for Liofa that enabled children from deprived backgrounds to go to the gaeltacht on holiday and this move by the DUP, over what would be a relatively small amount of money, has basically catapulted the Irish language back to the centre of the political stage in Northern Ireland. So Sinn Féin’s demand is for a stand-alone Irish Language Act. The DUP are willing to move on an Irish Language Act but what they are proposing is a hybrid act that would also acknowledge Ulster-Scots and Sinn Féin is saying: No, there is no parity between the two and they want an Irish Language Act on its own. The other issue would be over reform of what is called the ‘petition of concern’ (PoC) in the Assembly – and this is a mechanism that basically has allowed the DUP, because it holds the most seats in Stormont to vote down, to prevent, other other democratic decisions that the Assembly might take, and the main issue here is over equal marriage – that is allowing same-sex couples the right to marriage.

Belfast Protest Photo: BBC Date: 1 July 2017

And the DUP has consistently voted this down in the Assembly when the numbers are there to support equal marriage and Sinn Féin is demanding reform of the petition of concern that would allow for a democratic vote in the Assembly to allow men to marry men or women to marry women. Those are the two main issues but the Irish language really, really is the biggie.

Martin:   Okay, And there had been another demand – you mentioned the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). There was a scandal. There was a special incentive, or a programme given, that you could put in special kind of heaters and you, it turned out – it was under Arlene Foster’s leadership – you would get paid we’ll say a dollar and a half or a pound and a half, whatever measure, for every pound or dollar you use so you would make money by burning heat – it was called a ‘money to burn’ scandal by some. Sinn Féin had demanded that she step aside and that that was another red line – that you couldn’t have somebody be the first minister of a government while it was investigating whether something was done wrong in terms of that particular scandal. What happened to that demand, that Arlene Foster step aside, until the inquiry that is now ongoing – it’s headed by a retired judge – came forward with some results?

Suzanne:  Well Sinn Féin has signaled that it actually is prepared to drop this demand and this had been the central reason for Sinn Féin pulling out of the Executive and bringing Stormont down. It’s very, very hard for Sinn Féin to continue to demand that Arlene Foster steps down – her party has just had a magnificent election result getting almost three hundred thousand votes – the biggest share, the biggest number of votes that it has ever received.

Cartoon: Dave Brown for the Independent
Source: The Belfast Telegraph
Date: 28 June 2017

It holds the balance of power in Westminster and Arlene Foster has just returned from London with a billion pounds extra money for the Executive in Northern Ireland for projects to do with health, education and infrastructure. She’s in a very, very strong position and for Sinn Féin to demand that she steps aside, potentially for a year, or over a year, while the inquiry into RHI goes on really would be nonsensical – she just isn’t going to do it. She’s not going to bring all this money to Stormont and then say: You know what? I’m prepared to stand in the shadows for a year so Sinn Féin is prepared to drop this demand – if the DUP gives ground over something like the Irish Language Act Sinn Féin will quietly accept Arlene Foster as First Minister.

Martin:   It’s amasing, Suzanne, about the – we’re talking with Suzanne Breen, a journalist, Belfast-based journalist. (station identification). A few months ago after the Assembly elections Arlene Foster had made the famous statement about comparing the Irish language saying I’m not going to feed the crocodiles – they’ll be looking for more. Her party had a very poor result. Sinn Féin was just within a hair of overtaking them and it looked like Arlene Foster was one bad election, one bad statement, one bad action, one bad revelation in the RHI inquiry from being replaced as DUP leader. Now, Theresa May – it’s almost like that old term about a, that Greek device, about a Deus ex machina – you couldn’t figure out a way to get somebody out of a spot, a hero or heroine that you wanted to save, you pretend that God came down and pulled them out from a machine – all of a sudden the British general election has produced a tremendous result for Arlene Foster. She has now all the, they – the Unionist community – reacted to Sinn Féin’s reaction after the Assembly election and the Unionist community came out in force. They delivered a tremendous vote for her and Arlene Foster seems to be in a bigger, better position than she has even been before. Would that be correct?

Suzanne:  Yes, that’s right. Sinn Féin is in a very, very strong position, again a stronger position than it’s ever been before within the Nationalist community. The SDLP (Social Democratic and Labour Party) lost its three MPs in the Westminster election, it’s vote is dwindling – it’s now just really a regional party reduced to representation in Stormont and if there was another Stormont election the SDLP, I think, would lose substantial number of its seats and representation on the local councils. Sinn Féin has also basically neutered the left-wing radical People Before Profit that looked like a real threat to the party especially in working class, urban areas of The North, in Belfast and in Doire – but really for all the power that Sinn Féin now has in the Nationalist communities in the larger political stage it very, very much is a bit player – it doesn’t take its seats in Westminster so its MPs can’t support, for example, the opposition and Jeremy Corbyn, and it’s not in power in Stormont and it really doesn’t look to have any leverage. There is a Fianna Gael government in power in The South. The Tories have their deal with the DUP. So Sinn Féin are bit players for all their strength within the Nationalist community they really don’t wield any greater power outside that and the DUP are just miles ahead in terms of votes in Northern Ireland. I mean in the Assembly election the parties were basically neck-and-neck. In the Westminster election the DUP asserted a very, very strong lead so Sinn Féin is limited at the moment in what it can do but of course we have seen, as you’ve mentioned with the fates of Arlene Foster and Theresa May, the politics, nowadays all over the world, changes very, very quickly and you really just don’t know what’s coming next.

Martin:  Alright. Suzanne – two other stories that you broke this week: Peter Robinson claimed that the Irish Language Act had been promised by the – well, the British had represented to Sinn Féin that an Irish Language Act had been agreed to but that the Democratic Unionist Party never agreed to one. And they were told by the British: Don’t worry about it. Nothing’s going to happen. And he basically said that Tony Blair and the Labour Party, the British government at that time, had conned Sinn Féin into believing that there was an agreement on an Irish language act but that that had never happened.

Suzanne:  That’s right. Peter Robinson said that Tony Blair’s government had conned Sinn Féin into believing that an Irish Language Act would be introduced and he accused the British government of deliberately misleading Sinn Féin and also of changing a document without the DUP’s knowledge. And he said that at the negotiations in 2006 the Reverend Ian Paisley was so troubled about this deception and the Blair government’s double-dealings that he vowed, in future negotiations, he would conduct them directly with Sinn Féin – that he wouldn’t have a government intermediary. And the Reverend Ian Paisley believed that if the British government could con Sinn Féin like that it would do the same to them. Basically all throughout the 2006 negotiations, according to Peter Robinson, the Irish Language Act was never, ever mentioned and then just right at the very end the government changed the document, he believes after consultation with Sinn Féin. And when the DUP said: Well, we don’t agree to this change in this document they were told that, contrary to what the document said, there never would be an Irish Language Act. The document said that the government would legislate for an Irish Language Act but what the DUP were told on the side was that the power in this area would be devolved from Westminster to Stormont and Stormont really wouldn’t have to do anything. So it was nudge, nudge, wink, wink – this language is here and it’s being used to fool Sinn Féin but in reality nothing will happen and that was exactly what did occur. The British government legislated for an Irish language ‘strategy’ along with an Ulster-Scots ‘strategy’ and nothing else. So much of what Mr. Robinson said has been shown to be accurate – that the wool was pulled over Sinn Féin’s eyes in the 2006 negotiations.  It genuinely thought that there was, that an Irish Language Act was going to be introduced but really, when it came to the technical detail, it was never going to happen.

Martin:   Alright. And you also have a situation where the British government is going, and Theresa May, is going to be in partnership with the DUP on an ongoing basis. They will need votes on different issues and there’s a concern: Are there any kind of side deals that are made? Will the British government, for example, move on the Parades Commission or in terms of legacy or in terms of any – the statute of limitations – other issues, after consultation with the DUP on areas which are within the British government’s authority where Sinn Féin would not be able to prevent them from taking any action?

Suzanne:   Yes, well the DUP has a lot of power because the that it deal reached with Theresa May on Monday doesn’t just guarantee them money here and now for the DUP votes in the next five years in Parliament – the deal is only for two years. But it also leaves out plenty of votes that may arise on a daily basis in which DUP support will be known. Now from what we know and what we have been told those other more parochial issues are not part of the deal. But there obviously is a fear, with Nationalists, among Nationalists, that certain issues like parades and the like could be being sorted out between the DUP and the Tory government in private. The government is insisting that there is absolute transparency and this is just about things that’ll benefit the whole community in Northern Ireland generally. In some ways though if the government did go down that path in terms of doing side deals that very much irritated Nationalists it might reverberate for it in Westminster. 

Hundreds descend on Whitehall to protest Tory/DUP deal.
Photo: AP/Tim Ireland
Source: The Independent
Date: 10 June 2017

Generally, there might be a feeling that you know, this isn’t fair play because there are a lot of people, ordinary conservatives, more moderate conservatives, that really are quite irked by the fact that Theresa May has got into bed with Arlene Foster’s party and they’re not very happy about it. They regard the DUP as extremists, as conservative on social issues – they’re not happy with it. So Theresa May has to be very, very careful and not have a rebellion within her party’s ranks and keep everybody on board. Her majority, even with the DUP, is so, so slender she cannot afford to alienate people.

Martin:   Okay and one final story you broke for the Belfast Telegraph: Outside Holy Cross Primary School, it’s an area just on the edge of a Nationalist area in Ardoyne just very close to a Unionist area already, leading up to July Twelfth, the kerbstones, or the pavement, outside that school have been painted red, white and blue – not to celebrate American Independence Day as people are here but to celebrate the British – and there had been graffiti, ‘LA’, Loyalist Ardoyne, to intimidate some of the students, the young children, who would go into that school. Is there anything that can be done to remove this or stop these tensions or diffuse them as we start to move forward into negotiations as we move forward towards July Twelfth?

Suzanne: 

‘LA’ and kerbstones painted at Holy Cross Primary School in Ardoyne
Source: The Belfast Telegraph
Date: 30 June 2017

Well a local SDLP Councillor in North Belfast, Paul McCusker, he has approached the relevant authorities, which would be Belfast City Council and Transport NI, and he’s asked them to remove the paint from the road. However, he was told that this couldn’t be done without consultation with the wider community – that would be with the Loyalist community – so it looks like the paint is going to stay there because there isn’t the will there among the authorities to take action and to take steps that would anger the local Unionist community so it looks like the kerbstones will remain painted red, white and blue for the foreseeable future.

Martin: Alright. So that’s how the lead-up to July Twelfth is already started – those demonstrations and young children going to school are going to have to see that sort of graffiti. The British government can do nothing about it, according to themselves, other than to ask for consultation – which who knows how long that would take and who was going to say something on the Unionist side against the Loyalists who put up that graffiti – they’re going to be concerned about repercussions. Suzanne, we want to thank you. We’re looking forward to your stories – continue to cover and break the news on these stories in the Belfast Telegraph, in the Irish Independent and other stories that you write from.

Suzanne: Thank you.

Martin: Okay. That was Suzanne Breen, the award-winning journalist from the Irish Times, from the Sunday Tribune, more recently with the Belfast Telegraph and with the Irish Independent – she contributes stories to them on a continuing basis. (ends time stamp ~ 51:06)

Suzanne Breen RFÉ 11 March 2017

Radio Free Éireann
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John McDonagh and Martin Galvin speak to award winning journalist Suzanne Breen via telephone from Belfast about the reaction of the Unionist and Loyalist communities to the results of the recent snap election in The North of Ireland. (begins time stamp ~ 18:45)

Martin:  With us on the line – we’re very fortunate we have two of the best known, prize winning journalists and commentators on the Irish situation. The first of them is Belfast-based Suzanne Breen. Suzanne, welcome back to Radio Free Éireann.

Suzanne:   Thank you, Martin.

Martin:  Suzanne, the last time we talked to you we were talking about ‘roll-over Republicanism’, we were talking about a situation where Arlene Foster, who’s the head of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), seemed to be unassailable. She had a big majority in Stormont. It seemed like she was a new beginning to the Democratic Unionist Party – a departure – somebody more moderate, more liberal, more open to the views of Nationalists and Catholics than certainly than the founding member of the party had been in his early days, Ian Paisley, or Peter Robinson had been in the early founding of the DUP. We’re now in a completely different situation. I just want to read a quote from an MLA, Members of the Legislative Assembly, a Unionist who lost her seat – Jo-Anne Dobson, she said this:

Arlene Foster has done more, in my living memory, against unionism by not stepping aside. The cost has been sixteen unionist seats. One woman has been responsible for five hard-working, good women losing their seats. She weakened unionism and helped the Irish nationalist cause. She projected an atmosphere of fear during the election. The election was a hammer-blow for Unionists. Why couldn’t Arlene Foster have just stepped aside?

How representative is that view – that somebody from a different party, but it’s an official Unionist party, who lost her seat – how representative is that comment of the attitude now within Unionism as to the election and how did things change so fast and so dramatically?

Suzanne:   Well Arlene Foster has turned from being her party’s greatest asset to being its greatest liability. She was asked by Sinn Féin to stand aside for what would have been three weeks and she refused. I think her party and herself made a call that Sinn Féin was so addicted to holding power at Stormont and to the institutions that it would capitulate on this demand as it had given into the DUP before and been exceedingly tolerant and always climbed down and Sinn Féin didn’t do that. And Arlene Foster’s behaviour during the election campaign was so obnoxious to Nationalists that even the most moderate voters came out to oppose her. She talked about Republicans and Nationalists being ‘crocodiles’ that had an insatiable appetite and she used language that really belonged to the last century – language that wouldn’t have been expected to her and language that was interpreted as arrogant, patronising and sectarian. So while the DUP’s number of first preference votes in the election actually went up Sinn Féin’s votes rocketed and they came within just a thousand votes of being the main political party in Northern Ireland. The DUP won two hundred and twenty-five thousand four hundred and thirteen. Sinn Féin won two hundred and twenty-four thousand two hundred and forty-five. And also, very importantly, while the DUP won twenty-eight seats in the new Assembly Sinn Féin won twenty-seven and if you add in the left-wing People Before Profit, who believe in a united Ireland even though they don’t class themselves as Nationalists, the two parties are virtually tied. The DUP lost ten seats in this election. Sinn Féin lost only one which was quite an achievement given that the number of seats were decreasing from a hundred and eight to ninety.

So Sinn Fein is now neck-and-neck with the DUP and Nationalists, when you add in the SDLP (Social Democratic and Labour Party) are neck-and-neck with Unionists, which is the DUP and the more moderate Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). So really Arlene Foster has brought her party and Unionism from a position of great strength, just ten months ago, to a position now of huge weakness. The election result has been a huge psychological blow for Unionists. There is talk now of Unionist pacts, Unionist coalitions and Unionism is really under pressure and feels much, much weaker than it has at any point in the past two decades. And what a lot of Unionists are saying is this all could have been avoided, this election needn’t have happened had Arlene Foster stood aside before Christmas for three short weeks – this really wouldn’t have happened and had she not angered the Nationalist community so much during the election campaign. Yes, her own party’s vote held up but she drove so many Nationalists into voting for Sinn Féin and she has been described as Gerry Adams’ and Sinn Féin’s greatest recruiting sergeant either. So her message of loathing against Sinn Féin brought out her own supporters but it brought out far, far more Nationalists. It was a double-edged sword.

Martin:  Suzanne, they are now in talks. I believe the first week is just about finished. They have three weeks to convene a new government wherein Sinn Féin would agree to nominate a Deputy First Minister, the DUP would nominate the First Minister and that must be done in order to convene a government. Sinn Féin has said so far that they will not go in and will not do that unless Arlene Foster stands aside while the RHI, the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal, is dealt with. They’re in talks right now. How does Arlene Foster – during the campaign she portrayed Gerry Adams as some kind of bogeyman, she was there to stop his agenda. She said Michelle O’Neill, who would be the candidate or the leader of Sinn Féin in The North, was merely somebody that Gerry Adams had installed and would instruct and was not an independent person. How does Arlene Foster, having campaigned on the basis of: A vote for me is a vote to stop them and block them – how does she now go into negotiations and try to form a government with Sinn Féin within a couple of more weeks?

Suzanne:   Well there’s always this game that is played between the DUP and Sinn Féin and there’s a big amount of hypocrisy in it. It was played ten months ago when the DUP election campaign was run on the grounds of ‘vote for Arlene because you might get Martin McGuinness as First Minister’. And yet after the election the parties settled down very happily in government together. In some ways they really need each other because all the fear they instill – if you don’t vote for me you get ‘them’ – that’s the game that encourages their voters to come out in large numbers but they do settle down and do do business after the election. The key question is here is whether Sinn Féin will do a u-turn on its demand that Arlene Foster step aside? The party is saying that she still does have to step aside until an inquiry into RHI is over. Now that inquiry could take between six months and probably actually a year and Sinn Féin has said that this is a red line for it. Now many people have heard of Sinn Féin red lines before and they do shift but it would be very, very hard for the party to surrender on this one. It has just won an election; it has a huge vote and there is a lot of anger in Nationalist areas against Arlene Foster and it would seem to be a pretty poor strategy if the party threw that away and alienated the voters that it is so happy to have won back because until now the whole drift in recent elections had been for a decreasing vote for Sinn Féin. It was very much losing touch with its grassroots, its voters were disillusioned and they have now been energised back into supporting the party and it would seem quite strange for Sinn Fein to throw this away and to immediately go into government with Arlene Foster.

What Sinn Féin is saying as a possible compromise is that Arlene Foster could be a minister in the new government but not First Minister, not having the top job but that she would get that job if and when she was exonerated by the public inquiry that is taking place. Now on the other hand, some people think that Sinn Féin is so wedded again to power at Stormont and will so much want to get the institutions up and running again that this will, this demand that Arlene step aside, will be brushed side. I think that’s pretty unlikely. I think Sinn Féin will, so to speak, hold onto its guns on this one and Arlene will make some kind of announcement that if an overall, if a big deal with Sinn Féin can be done for the sake of Northern Ireland she will step out of the limelight, out of being First Minister, for a period of months until the whole RHI issue is resolved.

John:   (station identification) And with us on the line from Belfast is Suzanne Breen who writes for the Belfast Telegraph. Suzanne, this has been an earthquake within the Loyalist community and you read some of the reactions – can you tell us: Why is it that the Loyalist paramilitaries, say like the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), gets no support. And I read an article that there’s anger within the Loyalist paramilitaries, particularly the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), that they’re getting jittery and they’re thinking about going back to the guns and all this other stuff but there’s just sheer panic within the Loyalist community and that Gerry Adams might overplay his hand for a united Ireland but maybe describe for our audience: Why is there such a panic, and even in particularly with the Loyalist paramilitaries, about this vote?

Suzanne:  Well it just – Unionist have been used to having quite a numerical lead over Nationalists in elections and you know – they’re used to ruling the roost and this really has put fear in them. As I said before it is a major psychological issue. They now see this on the march and this on the rise – Nationalist community – its commentators widely said that Arlene wakened the sleeping giant of Nationalist voters so you know they have a lot to get used to. I don’t believe for one second that it is going to lead to Loyalist paramilitaries restarting their campaign again. I think they were ultimately controlled, at some type of central level, by elements of the British state and I don’t think that that British state wants to destabilise Northern Ireland which is ticking away quite nicely at the minute. In terms of Unionist voters they have never really supported the Loyalist paramilitary parties. Even people who would support the Loyalist paramilitaries they tend to vote DUP at elections. The Loyalist paramilitary parties, the Progressive Unionist Party, which would be seen as the political wing of the UVF, it manages to get a few councillors elected but even gone are the days where it would get someone elected to the Assembly. Even when it was getting people elected to the Assembly it was only one or two members. It really didn’t catch on within the Unionist community and it’s not going to do that now but I think certain people sense fear that Loyalists back on the streets with their guns. I think that’s wrong. Loyalist paramilitaries are still active but it’s mainly in terms of extorting money from within their own community and intimidation. They’re not really active in terms of targeting Catholics.

Martin:  Alright Suzanne, just we’re coming towards the end – I want to get off the sixty-four thousand dollar question: Mike Nesbitt, the leader of the official Ulster Unionist (Party), has resigned. How safe is Arlene Foster? Is there any movement within her party that she should stand aside permanently? And what happens next? We have a couple of weeks, if there is no deal there’s a possibility of a prospect of new elections or it could be an extension of time – what are your predictions as to Arlene Foster and what will happen next in terms of re-convening Stormont?

Suzanne:  Well the Ulster Unionist leader, Mike Nesbitt, was actually very gracious, very dignified. He fell on his sword, took responsibility for his poor election result. Arlene Foster isn’t going to do that and she will not be shifted as DUP leader but the key question is: Will she step aside as First Minister of Northern Ireland while remaining DUP leader? Personally, I think she will. There are certainly senior people in the party who are briefing against her, who think that she has seriously damaged the party but she maintains the support of people like deputy leader, Nigel Dodds, and if the DUP moves against her it won’t be in the face of a very aggressive Sinn Féin because it just wouldn’t do that. It will be in the months ahead that she may be sidelined. She may find it difficult to get back the First Minister position but the DUP is not going to dump Arlene Foster just because Gerry Adams is asking – so that would look disastrous. There are three weeks for Sinn Féin and the DUP to reach a deal. Most observers believe that that is probably a very, very difficult task. No one would think that Northern Ireland is going to go back to direct rule. Probably the Secretary of State, James Brokenshire, will fiddle with the rules to allow devolution to somehow be suspended to give the parties maybe extra weeks or months to reach a deal. Another question is whether Sinn Féin actually does want a deal or does it think that, in reality, Stormont rule isn’t working for it and actually the fact that the DUP just won’t compromise enough means that Sinn Féin’s involvement in the Executive, which is very unpopular, or whether Sinn Féin – the Executive offers massive powers of patronage, it offers salaries for Sinn Féin MLAs, it’s money going into the party’s coffers – whether it’s actually prepared to jeopardise that for political and ideological goals? Those are the key questions.

Martin:   Alright, Suzanne, we want to thank you. We’re then going to try and get the Nationalist perspective in a moment from Ed Moloney. Thank you for a tremendous amount of information and condensing it in a very short period of time.

Suzanne:   Okay. Thanks. (ends time stamp ~ 35:02)