There was still one last hope, albeit minimal, of reaching an agreement between the Northern Irish parties on the formation of a government. But neither the visit to Belfast by the British minister responsible for Northern Ireland, Chris Heaton-Harris, on Wednesday 26 October, nor the pressure from the government in Dublin will have made it possible to put an end to the blocking of Northern Irish institutions. which means new elections. The last one in May was won by the republicans of Sinn Féin – in favor of the reunification of the island of Ireland.
“Everyone sticks to their positions”
At the heart of the problem is the “Northern Ireland Protocol”, born of Brexit. The Unionist Party (DUP), which favors keeping Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom, is calling for the scrapping of this deal, negotiated between London and Brussels, which establishes a special customs status for the province to avoid the return of a physical border to the neighboring Republic of Ireland. According to the DUP, it undermines the integrity of the UK by creating a de facto trade border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the country.
“Everyone sticks to their positions. But the population has other concerns than the new election”, notes Fabrice Mourlon, professor of British and Irish civilization at Sorbonne-Nouvelle University. In the absence of a government, the budget has still not been voted on, angering provincial officials.
London manages current affairs
Claire Hanna, MP for the SDLP, the Social Democrats and the Labor Party, which represents Catholics in Northern Ireland, also suggests that “The Government of the Republic of Ireland must be involved in the day-to-day governance of Northern Ireland, together with the British Parliament, and that it will be given a role in the management of school and hospital budgets. » Because in the absence of a government in Belfast, it is London that administers current affairs. For Claire Hanna, ” Ithe conservative party (British, editor’s note) does not represent and does not have the interests of the people here at heart”. According to her, this situation only pushes more people towards the reunification of the two Irelands. As the DUP closes all possibilities, “People will find others”.
The new Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has assured European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that he prefers a “negotiated solution” on the protocol. “When he was in the Johnson government, Rishi Sunak had a fairly moderate position, but as he integrated more Eurosceptic figures into his government, it is not clear which way he will go”, emphasizes Fabrice Mourlon.