The political week in 5 points

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long criticised political parties here for engaging in what she described as “political point-scoring” after Monday’s suicide bomb attack at a pop concert in Manchester. Mrs Long told BBC’s Inside Politics programme that every politician in Northern Ireland should be in a position to condemn every violent incident – past or present.

UUP leader Robin Swann said, when Stormont is back up and running, he is “not minded” to sign a petition of concern. He said that the mechanism has previously been abused. Although he would vote against any change to the definition of marriage – say, to introduce same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland – or any change to current abortion laws here, he would not sign a petition of concern to veto such moves.

The Green Party in Northern Ireland said a referendum should be held on the Brexit deal reached between the UK and European Union. Launching the party’s general election manifesto, leader Steven Agnew said, “We need a referendum on the final deal because the full facts and true understanding of Brexit was unavailable when we all participated in the June 2016 vote.” Sinn Féin launched its manifesto too, with its Northern leader Michelle O’Neill confidently claiming the party is heading for another “groundbreaking” election. She said “the new certainties are gone and a new political era is opening up in Irish politics”.

US President Donald Trump told a NATO conference that 23 of the 28 member nations “are still not paying what they should be paying” to ensure their defence. He said: “This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States, and many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years.” Also this week, Mr Trump said the attack in Manchester illustrated the need for greater cooperation on fighting terrorism.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Europe can no longer “completely depend” on the US and UK after the election of Donald Trump and Brexit. She said she wants friendly relations with both nations – as well as Russia – but Europe now had to “fight for its own destiny”. Mrs Merkel said the relationship between German and France had to be a priority.

About Connor Daly

Connor is Editor of Northern Slant. His interests include politics, human rights, current affairs and communications.