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A New Leader - Same Old DUP?


A New Leader - Same Old DUP?


Later this week the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is expected to ratify Edwin Poots as party leader. This follows a brutal dismissal of the previous leader Arlene Foster and a divided leadership contest. Mr. Poots, the current Agriculture Minister, has been a vocal opponent of the Irish Protocol that was agreed between the British Government and the EU to prevent a hard border from emerging in Ireland following Brexit.


As a protest against the Protocol, the DUP has committed to disturbing cooperation between the North and South of Ireland. To date, they have forced the cancellation of mandatory meetings between Ministers North and South. These meetings are an essential element of the Good Friday Agreement and a legal responsibility of the Ministerial Pledge of Office.


In addition, the government in the North was re-established last year on the back of an agreement that committed to an Irish Language Act that would protect and promote the rights of Irish speakers for the first time since the foundation of the state. While the DUP has maintained that they will honor this agreement they have failed to support the introduction of the legislation or a public timetable to enact the legislation.


After meeting with the new DUP leadership team yesterday Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD said,


"Last week I met with the DUP’s designate leader, Edwin Poots. Mr Poots affirmed his commitment to deliver all the commitments made in the NDNA. Today we met again and I told Mr Poots that he needs now to confirm that those commitments will be implemented during the current Assembly mandate, as agreed by the DUP leadership.

"There is also an urgent need for him to confirm unambiguously that the DUP will work in all the political institutions of the Good Friday Agreement – the Assembly, the North South Ministerial Council and the British Irish Council instead of boycotting them.

"It is obvious that proper power sharing and all of the other interdependent political institutions will only function on the basis of good faith and an unqualified commitment by every party to honour agreements already made. These are the critical priorities which the new DUP leader now must address.”


The new DUP leader cannot walk away from political obligations, legal responsibilities, or public commitments. To do so undermines the political process and creates a crisis where there had been agreement.


The US position has been consistent. Agreements made must be agreements honored. That has been the message from Congress and successive Administrations. We wait to see if the new DUP leader is listening.


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