Northern Ireland’s DUP is blocking the province’s new legislature

Northern Ireland’s DUP is blocking the province’s new legislature

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson arrives for a news conference at Stormont Parliament Buildings following a meeting with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to form a power-sharing government May 9, 2022 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. REUTERS/ Clodagh Kilcoyne

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BELFAST, May 13 (Reuters) – The Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland blocked the re-establishment of a power-sharing administration in the British-run province on Friday as newly elected members of the assembly met in Stormont chamber for the first time.

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson told reporters his party had decided not to support the election of a speaker until the UK government and European Union resolve issues surrounding the Northern Ireland Protocol, which will govern post-Brexit trade in the region .

UK Government ministers have repeatedly said that the European Union must make concessions on the Protocol in order to win over the Unionist community. Irish officials have countered that a clear majority in the Northern Ireland Assembly broadly supports the protocol.

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Under the terms of the 1998 Good Friday Peace Accord, which largely ended three decades of sectarian bloodshed in the region, nationalists and unionists must agree on a spokesman before electing a cross-sectarian government.

The DUP’s decision means the Assembly could not discuss the appointment of a First and Deputy First Minister. The party had already announced that it would block the formation of an executive.

In a symbolic breakthrough for Irish nationalism, Sinn Féin overtook the DUP as the region’s largest party after the general election last week.

In a statement published on the DUP’s website, Donaldson said unionists’ concerns about the Northern Ireland Protocol were not just a political dispute, calling the Protocol “a direct challenge to the principles that every one in Northern Ireland has adopted in recent years underpinned agreements reached over 25 years. “

When Britain left the EU, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government agreed to a pact that effectively kept Northern Ireland within the EU’s single market and customs union, given its open border with EU member Ireland.

This created a tariff border at sea between the rest of the UK and the province that pro-British communities in Northern Ireland say is undermining their place in the UK. Britain now says the bureaucracy required is intolerable.

Michelle O’Neill, leader of Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland, said the DUP, which backed Britain’s exit from the EU, is punishing the public with its actions.

“They are shamefully holding the public as ransom for their Brexit chaos,” she said on Twitter.

“Today is the day we should form an executive to put money in people’s pockets and start fixing our health service.”

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Reporting by Amanda Ferguson in Belfast and Graham Fahy in Dublin; Adaptation by Toby Chopra and Frank Jack Daniel

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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