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  • Writer's pictureGreg O'Loughlin

Extraordinary Intervention from the Times of London

By the end of last week, it was clear that a deal between the European Union and the British Government was on the cards. On Friday, British Prime Minister Prime Minister Rishi Sunak met with the leaders of the main political parties in the North of Ireland. Following his meeting with Sinn Féin, Mary Lou McDonald said that it was game on for an agreement. Mr Sunak left to meet with US and EU leaders in Munich.

Jeffery Donaldson, the leader of the largest unionist party, the Democratic Unionist Party, has blocked government formation. Twenty-five years ago, Mr Donaldson, then as a member of the rival Ulster Unionist Party walked out of the Good Friday Agreement negotiations.

In Belfast, the extremes of Unionism have called on the DUP to continue their boycott of government. A position that Mr Donaldson has maintained.

In London, former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who signed the original agreement and then claimed he was not bound by it, opposed the approach of Rishi Sunak. The intervention of Mr Johnson has nothing to do with the wishes of the majority in the North of Ireland. It has all to do with wanting to return to power, having been forced to resign, All of this led to an extraordinary intervention from the Times of London editorial which wrote.

"Does Sir Jeffrey (Donaldson) really think that reason enough to deny Northern Ireland a government? To Ulster’s impatient young such dogmatism seems baffling. He knows this. Grandstanding opposition may spare him the ire of East Belfast’s hard men but cannot save Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom. Nor, for that matter, will Boris Johnson, whose friends warn that Mr Sunak’s compromise is unlikely to pass muster. His briefing is not, as the ambitious cabinet minister Penny Mordaunt suggested yesterday, a constructive intervention. Like Randolph Churchill, Mr Johnson has concluded that the “Orange card” of unionist discontent trumps all else in pursuit of power. Yet having agreed the 2019 deal that cut Northern Ireland adrift, Mr Johnson alone bears responsibility for the constitutional crisis Mr Sunak may soon resolve. He is the last person to whom anyone, especially Sir Jeffrey, should be listening. As the endgame approaches, Downing Street must now hold its nerve. Mr Johnson should keep his counsel. And Sir Jeffrey and the DUP, as his constituents would put it, should wise up."

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