‘New Decade, New Approach’ - main points

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The main elements of the new deal for Six-County power-sharing agreed by the Dublin and London governments and five political parties in the north of Ireland.

 

* An office of identity and cultural expression to promote respect for diversity, build social cohesion and reconciliation and support all aspects of cultural and linguistic heritage will be established.

* A central translation hub is to be established. The Stormont administration can use Irish and/or Ulster Scots. Business at the assembly may be conducted in Irish, Ulster Scots as well as English, with a simultaneous translation system.

* An Irish language commissioner will recognise, support, protect and enhance its development and provide official recognition of its status. The commissioner will develop best practice standards for usage of Irish within public bodies, although those standards would be subject to a potential DUP veto.

* The petitions of concern mechanism (vetoes) is to be “reduced and returned to its intended purpose”, removing some of the power over Sinn Féin ministerial decisions handed to the DUP by the St Andrews Agreement. The parties will publicly committed to taking or supporting petitions of concern “only in the most exceptional circumstances and as a last resort, having used every other available mechanism.” The threshold for triggering one remains at 30 out of 90 assembly members, but will need the support of at least two parties, or one party and an independent.

* New bodies have been designed to increase communication and tackle corruption, including a party leaders’ forum and measures to help opposition parties to hold ministers to account.

* In the event of a future collapse, the agreement provides for a longer 24-week period before an assembly election must be called. Ministers will remain in office in a caretaker capacity.

* The British government has vowed to introduce legislation to implement stalled mechanisms to deal with toxic legacy of the Troubles within 100 days. Legislation to further implement the British Armed Forces Covenant is also to be introduced and a (British Army) Veterans’ Commissioner will be appointed exclusively for the Six Counties.

* In response to the case of Emma and Jake deSouza, the document said that government policy “should not create incentives for renunciation of British citizenship” and there would be changes to the rules on how people in the Six Counties bring their family members there.

© 2020 Irish Republican News