The week in 5 political points

Health Reform in Northern Ireland is parked by on-going political impasse. The NHS as come under increased financial pressure in the last number of years: growing waiting lists, hospital closures, deathly A&E waiting times and the decrease of the number of staff per-patient are indicative of the long over-due health reform that is need. Whilst the crisis shows traits of continued tory austerity, cuts could be mitigated against if an Executive were to be in place, along with a finance minister willing to set a budget, a health minister to over-see reforms and the restoration of power-sharing to enable the expenditure of the £1bn gained by the Tory-DUP deal. Disappointingly however, in the absence of these, the Trust have proposed that the £70m of cuts be decided by public consultation, once again allowing political parties to be devoid of their responsibility of governing.

Labour moves closer to solidifying its position on Brexit. This week shadow Brexit Secretary, Keir Starmer announced that the Labour Party are in support of the UK remaining part of the European Single Market post-Brexit. This will provide a flicker of hope for Remainers who eagerly awaited for the parties grey area surrounding Brexit to shift; as Starmer remarked, the time for ‘constructive ambiguity’ is over. This consolidation of position has the potential to give Labour an advantage in the event of another general election among the pro-EU electorate, as it puts clear ground between them and the Tories.

No set date for Stormont talks to resume. Earlier this week the Secretary of State, James Brokenshire, refused to commit to a date for power-sharing talks to resume, yet simultaneously reinforced the urgent need for a deal to be reached as soon as possible. This was despite Sinn Fein’s Northern leader, Michelle O’Neill, proposing that talks should resume this coming Monday. However, leading DUP figure, Simon Hamilton, described Ms. O’Neill’s proposal as little more than a stunt, as the MLA for Strangford claimed his party had been ready and waiting on Sinn Fein to come around the negotiating table for some time.

Trump’s pardon of Joe Arpaio adds fuel to the fire of the immigration debate. The 85 year old from Arizona, whose hard line approach to immigrants led to him being dubbed as ‘America’s toughest sheriff’, was this week pardoned by President Trump. His career presided over the worst period of racial profiling the U.S has ever seen. Trump has pardoned Arpaio despite failing to show up for a court hearing accusing him of using traffic controls to disproportionately stop and question immigrants. To pardon such a man who has historically abused the law instead of up-holding it all in the name of pursuing the far-right agenda, tells us all we need to know about Trump’s Presidency.

Syrian Orphanages have become the latest target in the ongoing Syrian civil-war. The harrowing plight of the Syrian people, despite falling from head-line news in the west, is still on-going; pillaging away at the weakest who are unable to defend themselves. Orphaned children, already greatly affected by the injustices in the world, have become the latest target of bombs and bullets. UNICEF estimated that around 6 million Syrian Children have been affected by this devastating war to date.