Northern Ireland to Reestablish Government as UK Parliament Approves Agreement

Asma - | World

The British parliament has approved amended post-Brexit trade regulations, putting Northern Ireland on the brink of reestablishing its government after a two-year absence.

If Sinn Fein, an Irish nationalist party, wins the most seats in the 2022 British region election, this historic turn of events suggests they will become the first minister.

The absence of a devolved government occurred when the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) withdrew in protest against post-Brexit trade rules, asserting that they created barriers with the rest of the United Kingdom and undermined Northern Ireland's position within it.

The breakthrough in revamping the rules represents a political victory for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who achieved what his predecessor, Boris Johnson, could not. It marks the end of years of wrangling over Northern Ireland's post-Brexit trading arrangements and follows lobbying efforts from U.S. President Joe Biden, who visited Northern Ireland last year.

The British government and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) negotiated new trade regulations for Northern Ireland, and on Thursday, the parliament of the United Kingdom accepted them without holding official voting. Among the changes are the reduction or elimination of physical inspections on goods traveling from the UK to Northern Ireland and the elimination of such checks inside the UK's internal market system.

Shortly after the parliamentary vote, the DUP officially requested a sitting of Northern Ireland's parliament to establish a power-sharing government, a crucial component of the 1998 peace deal that brought an end to decades of sectarian and political violence.

Party leader Jeffrey Donaldson announced that he had written to the Speaker of the Assembly, indicating the existence of a basis for the Northern Ireland Assembly to meet, fill the offices of First and Deputy First Ministers, and appoint Executive Ministers.

Donaldson plans to meet with leaders of other major political parties on Friday to discuss the formation of the new power-sharing government. The DUP is set to take on the Deputy First Minister role, which holds the same power as the First Minister.

The breakthrough follows weeks of government shutdown, triggering mass strikes by public sector workers demanding delayed pay increases. While there has been limited opposition within the DUP, the smaller rival, Traditional Unionist Voice, expressed fierce opposition. The Social Democratic and Labour Party, representing Irish nationalists, opposed the deal for downplaying the Republic of Ireland's role in Northern Ireland's economy.

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