Newton Emerson: Cynical self-interest may be the making of Stormont

Opposing parties can find common cause if they can get past cargo-cult mentality

UK  prime minister Boris Johnson and secretary of state for Northern Ireland Julian Smith  are greeted by First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill  at Stormont on Monday. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

UK prime minister Boris Johnson and secretary of state for Northern Ireland Julian Smith are greeted by First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill at Stormont on Monday. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

There was a pleasing symmetry at Stormont on Monday when new Sinn Féin Assembly speaker Alex Maskey welcomed British prime minister Boris Johnson.

Maskey has a conviction for stealing a sum of cash some 40 years ago. Johnson turned up with less cash than expected.

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