Stormont election ‘will decide the direction of Northern Ireland’, says Donaldson

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson

Stormont’s election this year “will decide the future direction of Northern Ireland”, said Sir Jeffrey Donaldson.

The DUP and Sinn Fein will be in the running to become the largest party in the Assembly after the May ballot.

The party that obtains the most deputies will have the right to appoint a prime minister.

However, with the executive currently unable to fully function following the resignation of Paul Givan as prime minister following the Brexit protocol, it is unclear whether the DUP will agree to appoint ministers after the election.

Brexit
Former Prime Minister Paul Givan (Peter Morrison/PA)

Sir Jeffrey has claimed Sinn Fein’s aim is to get a border poll, as he wants to see parties working together to ‘focus on what matters’.

Speaking at Queen’s University Belfast as part of a series of lectures on Assembly electoral leaders, Sir Jeffrey described the poll as “unprecedented in its importance”.

“It will decide the future direction of Northern Ireland,” he said.

“Sinn Fein made it clear, even last week with half-page advertisements in The New York Times and The Washington Post, this election for them is about having a divisive border poll.”

Sir Jeffrey insisted that ‘the last thing Northern Ireland needs is a border poll’.

Comments by Mary Lou McDonald
Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill and Mary Lou McDonald (Brian Lawless/PA)

“As we rebuild after Covid and deal with the rising cost of living from the grotesque Russian invasion of Ukraine, the last thing Northern Ireland needs is a border poll,” he said. he declared.

“We have to keep Northern Ireland working. We have to focus on what matters.

“That’s why I will be publishing a five-point plan for Northern Ireland to move forward together.

“Unionists and Nationalists are working together to ensure we fix our NHS, keep our schools world-class, scrap Northern Ireland Protocol, help working families cope with rising costs and develop our economy with more and better jobs.”

The DUP became the largest party after the last Assembly elections in 2017 with 28 MPs, just ahead of Sinn Fein with 27.

Since 2017, DUP numbers have fallen following the withdrawal of South Down MP Jim Wells’ party whip and the resignation of North Down MP Alex Easton.