United Kingdom: Northern Ireland Regains Its Executive

This is a significant occasion, and not just because it’s the weekend: Northern Ireland had been without a government for almost two years. The convening at Stormont is intended to enable the people of Northern Ireland to regain a functioning executive.

At the top of the agenda is the election of the Speaker, or president of the chamber, before Michelle O’Neill, the leader of the Northern Irish Sinn Fein, officially becomes the first female head of government of the British province in favor of the unification of the island. Sinn Fein, a party that was once the political wing of the IRA (Irish Republican Army), won the elections in May 2022.

For the first time, the DUP, the main unionist party, will also appoint a deputy First Minister. Until 2022, the unionist camp had always been in the majority in elections.

This step will unlock the rest of the agenda, namely the formation of a government, with positions being distributed among the political parties proportionally to the results of the last election. The main unionist, Protestant party, the DUP, has so far been blocking the vote as it has the power to do so – to demand adjustments to the post-Brexit customs policy from the central government in London.

The unionists believe that this policy jeopardizes the unity of the Kingdom. This week, London has agreed to some concessions.

And the DUP has agreed to end its boycott. Without a government, public services such as hospitals and schools have had to operate without a budget increase for two years: this will be one of the top priorities for the new Northern Irish executive.

Furthermore, the restart of the Northern Irish institutions will enable London to release a fund of 3.3 billion pounds (approximately 3.9 billion euros).

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