There may be a new UK Prime Minister, but there was a strong sense of déjà vu in the corridors of Stormont this afternoon.

The same arguments are repeated again, with the name Liz Truss inserted in place of Boris Johnson.

Both DUP leader Geoffrey Donaldson and Sinn Fein vice-president and Stormont first minister-in-waiting Michelle O’Neill said they had written to Ms Truss and wanted to meet her as soon as possible.

Both want to reinforce very different messages they’ve been repeating ad nauseam for months.

“Stop pandering to the DUP” was the message from Michelle O’Neill shortly after the results of the Conservative leadership contest were announced.

“Liz Truss has an opportunity, even at this late stage when she comes into her new role, to really work with the EU, to work with the Irish government to find ways to restore the relationship and to find ways to make the protocol work, because we all know the solutions there are, they are on the table,” she said.

“No more pandering to the DUP. They are the only building block of what we can form the executive branch of.’

But Geoffrey Donaldson reiterated his party’s position that conditions for power-sharing cannot exist until the Northern Ireland Protocol issue is resolved.

The DUP leader said he had made that position absolutely clear during the Stormont Assembly election campaign in May and that he had received a mandate from his party’s electorate.

“Not a single trade unionist elected to the Assembly in the last election supports the protocol and that is a fragile position,” he said.

Mr Donaldson also said he believed the “penny has dropped” in Dublin and Brussels that for unionists the protocol was about identity and Northern Ireland, which is an integral part of the UK.

As UK Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss had the full support of the DUP when she introduced legislation in the UK Parliament to repeal parts of the protocol.

This legislation is now in the House of Lords.

Asked if he trusted the future UK prime minister to keep his promise, Mr Donaldson said: “I don’t operate on the basis of trust.”

He made it clear the DUP wanted to see “decisive action” on the protocol before agreeing to return to power-sharing.

There is clear concern within his party that as UK prime minister Liz Truss could be less tough than Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, and seek a compromise with the EU in the hope of averting a possible trade war amid the worsening situation. cost of living crisis.

The Irish government will be hoping that this is the case, and that despite her tough stance during the Tory election campaign, she is opting for a more pragmatic approach of negotiation rather than confrontation.

But even if she manages to reach agreement with the EU on the protocol, it may not be enough for the DUP – and the Stormont executive could be left in limbo. Even more deja vu.

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