DUP On Course to Collapse the Political Institutions of the Good Friday Agreement.
This morning in Belfast, Jeffery Donaldson the new leader of the largest unionist (pro-British) party the DUP, set a course to collapse political institutions in the hope of gaining an electoral advantage.
The DUP has been falling in the polls. Once the largest party, they have dropped to joint fourth place overall and trailing behind other unionist rivals.
In a desperate bid to appeal to hard-liners, the DUP leader directed his Ministers to stop attending North/South Meetings. Attending such meetings is an explicit commitment of the Ministerial Code of Office and the Good Friday Agreement. Refusing to attend undermines all the institutions. Further Mr. Donaldson threatened to remove DUP Ministers and collapse the Government if his demands were not met.
So what is his demand? He wants the Irish Protocol scrapped in its entirety. This is a legal international agreement between the EU and British Government to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland. It is part of a wider set of agreements stemming from the British Governments decision to leave the EU. Brexit as its known was supported by Jeffery Donaldson and the DUP.
While there have been some issues with the operation of the Protocol, these are being addressed. Earlier this week both the EU and British Government agreed to a standstill arrangement to allow time to resolve the issues.
The DUP is now trying to turn this standstill into a stand-off.
The collapse of the DUP is in part due to their promotion of Brexit which was rejected by the majority of voters in the North. There plan to collapse the Assembly in the hope of regaining an electoral advantage is a strategy to nowhere.
Speaking to Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald said,
“The position set out by Jeffrey Donaldson and the DUP today is a reckless, irresponsible, and short-sighted election stunt.”
“The Good Friday Agreement institutions of the Assembly, Executive, British-Irish Council, and North-South Ministerial Council and the participation of Executive parties and Ministers within those cannot be cherrypicked.”
“This is a time for calm and mature political leadership.
“Sinn Féin will continue to provide that responsible leadership, we will continue to work to improve people’s lives, and we hope that other progressive parties will stand with us in doing that in the time ahead.”
The actions of the DUP are a challenge to all parties, both governments, and the US, and a threat to the agreements and institutions.