Absurd and frustrating: this is how local politicians and experts describe the political situation in which Northern Ireland is sinking, the British government having resolved, Friday, October 28, to announce the probable holding of elections parliamentarians in the province, only six months after the previous ones were held. “We are going to call new elections”said Chris Heaton-Harris, the Minister for Northern Ireland, without however specifying when they will be held – probably in mid-December.
This development is the consequence of the refusal of the DUP, the main unionist party, supporter of the maintenance of Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom, since the May election, to sit in the Assembly and to participate in a government north- Irish.
The Good Friday Treaty, which in 1998 put an end to the civil war between unionists and nationalists, in favor of the reunification of Ireland, provides for these two communities to rule the province together and gives them each a right of veto on collective decisions. However, the DUP contests the Northern Irish Brexit protocol, the part of the divorce treaty between the United Kingdom and the European Union establishing the dual status of Northern Ireland – it remains partly in the European internal market.
The blackmail didn’t work
To obtain its revision or even its abandonment, this very conservative political formation refused to participate in the Northern Irish Assembly, hoping that the prospect of new elections would push London and Brussels to act. A vote must be reorganized if the Assembly has not been constituted six months after a first vote.
This blackmail did not work: negotiations between London and Brussels have hardly advanced since the start of 2022. A British government bill aimed at unilaterally modifying the protocol has not helped: the Europeans consider it as a violation of the country’s international commitments. The chaos of recent months in Westminster with the successive fall of the Johnson and Truss governments has not helped matters.
The impossibility of forming a Northern Irish executive “is an insult” Northern Irish people,” said Michelle O’Neill, vice-president of Sinn Fein, Ireland’s main nationalist party. This formation was, for the first time in the history of the province, came first in the elections of May and Mme O’Neill was to become prime minister. She was unable to take up her duties normally.
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