Northern Ireland government balances with one week to find solution | UK News
The future of the decentralized government of Northern Ireland is at stake, with Sinn Fein refusing to ratify the Democratic Unionist Party candidate for prime minister.
New DUP Chief Edwin Poots had appointed Paul Givan succeed Arlene foster when she officially steps down tomorrow, but power sharing requires Sinn feinthe support of.
If the two biggest parties fail to come to an agreement on the issue within seven days, Stormont’s executive will collapse, almost certainly triggering a snap election.
Ms Foster, who led the party for five years, was effectively forced to resign following a coup by some MPs and members of the DUP Assembly.
While his successor, Mr Poots, can appoint other ministers to the executive, the prime minister and deputy prime ministers are jointly elected as part of a binding coalition.
Sinn Fein, which accuses the DUP of repeatedly blocking Irish language legislation, still had to demand it before agreeing to ratify Mr Givan’s appointment.
A party source said: “Sinn Fein spotted Edwin Poots and the DUP, having had a series of engagements where we talked and listened …
“Our assessment is that he is acting in bad faith by saying publicly that he will honor the commitments agreed upon in the NDNA (New Decade New Approach).”
The NDNA was the deal negotiated by the British and Irish governments in 2020 to reestablish decentralized government after a three-year collapse.
The source continued: “We believe they are acting in bad faith. We do not believe they will abide by the Irish Language Act.
“Our position is that the appointment of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister must be accompanied by Irish language legislation.”
Loyalists already protesting against the Brexit Protocol – the commercial border in the Irish Sea – the new DUP leader has little room for maneuver for any compromise.
A DUP spokesperson said: “No one would forgive Sinn Fein for play fast and freely with people’s lives in North Ireland.
“The DUP leadership is determined to enter government, respect the division of power and continue its work. It is for others to follow.
“We remain committed to the NDNA agreement and want to see it implemented in all of its parts.”
If the two sides cannot come to an agreement within a week of Ms Foster’s resignation, the Northern Ireland secretary is required to set a date for an election.