July 25, 2021

Political crisis deepens in Northern Ireland

The political crisis is deepening in Northern Ireland. Thursday evening June 17, Edwin Poots, the leader of the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party), the main party of the Unionist community (loyal to London), had to submit his resignation, just twenty-one days after taking office . The position of the man, known for his reactionary views, had become untenable after a majority of his party’s elected officials – Members of Parliament in Westminster and the Northern Irish Assembly in Stormont, strongly protested his attempt to impose a prime minister for the province as part of an agreement with the opposition formation Sinn Fein (pro reunification of Ireland), which they contested.

“I asked the president of the party to launch the internal electoral process to elect a new leader of the DUP”, Poots, 56, said in a statement Thursday. “It was a difficult time for the party and the province, and I let the president know [du DUP] my determination to do everything to ensure that the Unionists and Northern Ireland advance strengthened. “

The very short leadership of Mr Poots, ex-minister for agriculture in the Northern Irish government, was marked by a succession of coups de force and political mistakes which left his party divided as never since its creation – there is just fifty years old.

The future appointment refused

At the end of April, Mr. Poots had contributed to the fall of Arlene Foster, leader of the party since 2015, by rallying against her the members of the DUP who believe that she was too weak towards the British government. The DUP supported Brexit, then fought against the divorce treaty promoted by the former British Prime Minister, Theresa May, who nevertheless defended loyalist interests.

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He was finally imposed by Boris Johnson, at the end of 2019, an alternative agreement with Brussels (the Northern Irish “protocol”), establishing a border in the Irish Sea in order to preserve the peace agreements of the Good Friday Agreement and ‘avoid a land border in Ireland. The DUP now rejects this protocol which it considers an attack on the unionist / loyalist, pro-British identity.

Edwin Poots succeeded Arlene Foster at the head of the DUP at the end of May, but he refused to recover the office of Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, saying he wanted to devote himself fully to the party and preferring to entrust it to a close, Paul Givan. The latter is best known for having tried to impose his creationist theses in the schools of Lisburn, south-west of Belfast.

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