N.Ireland's Crisis-hit Unionist Party Gets Third Leader In A Month
Dublin, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 22nd Jun, 2021 ) :Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) on Tuesday named its third leader in under a month, the latest twist in a Brexit-soaked drama that has left the region's leadership in turmoil.
Jeffrey Donaldson, who sits in the UK parliament in London, was the only member to register his candidacy to head the hardline pro-UK party, which has been riven by infighting over post-Brexit trading arrangements for the province.
Poots became leader in late May but was swiftly deposed by party colleagues last Thursday, just hours after naming his loyal ally Paul Givan as Foster's replacement as Northern Ireland first minister.
Poots had promised a tough stance against the so-called "Northern Ireland protocol", which effectively keeps Northern Ireland in the European customs union and single market that the UK left in January.
The protocol has angered pro-UK unionists by upholding EU control over trade in the British province.
"It is not realistic to expect stability when every unionist representative in the devolved institutions opposes the Northern Ireland protocol," he said in a statement.
"The government and those who claim to be protectors of peace and stability, must step up and deal with the protocol in a manner which respects the constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom." It is expected that Donaldson, who already led DUP MPs in London, will soon resign his parliamentary seat to serve as the party's leader and first minister simultaneously.
Givan is now expected to be ousted from office in another forthcoming chapter of political tumult for the region.
- Protocol posturing - Northern Ireland was the site of "The Troubles", a sectarian conflict over British rule between pro-UK unionists and pro-Ireland nationalists, which killed 3,500 over three decades.
The Northern Ireland protocol is designed to prevent unchecked goods heading into the EU by the backdoor via member state Ireland, and imposes controls from mainland Great Britain -- England, Scotland and Wales.
July is traditionally a febrile month for Northern Ireland as unionists perform ceremonial marches marking the anniversary of the Protestant king William of Orange's victory over the Catholic king James II in the 17th century.
With tensions running high, it is feared the marches could be a flashpoint for violence.
In his victory statement, Donaldson said London and Brussels "must step up and recognise the flaws of the protocol and how it was foisted upon Northern Ireland." The protocol has also soured relations between Brussels and London as the UK threatens to renege on aspects of the accord not to its liking.
Instead, it has allowed a grace period of no checks and now wants to extend it, causing much anger in Brussels, which has threatened to retaliate with targeted tariffs in a diplomatic tussle dubbed a "sausage war." "We are actively considering the options to deal with a situation that is hard to see as sustainable," UK Brexit minister David Frost told lawmakers in London Tuesday.