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NI First Min Resigns Raising Calls For Early Election Amidst Brexit Talks


As had been rumoured earlier today (see 0914GMT bullet), Northern Ireland's First Minister Paul Givan has resigned, stating his opposition to the continued implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol within the Brexit withdrawal agreement.

  • Under the power-sharing agreement, Givan's resignation automatically triggers the resignation of Deputy FM Michelle O'Neill. O'Neill, hailing from the Irish republican Sinn Fein party stated earlier that "In the absence of a functioning Executive an early election must be called".
  • Opinion polls show Sinn Fein, historically the political wing of the IRA terrorist organisation, are on course to emerge as the largest party in elections for the Assembly scheduled at present for 5 May. The loyalist Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), from which Givan hails, sits in second place in polls, with a narrow lead over the moderate unionist Ulster Unionist Party.
  • The political crisis in Northern Ireland comes as the European Commission and UK gov't seek to find an agreement on the Northern Ireland protocol. However, little substantive progress is being made raising the prospect of either prolonged talks with little change to the status quo (risking political and economic paralysis in NI) or the UK triggering Ariticle 16 to disapply the protocol (risking a major escalation in trade tensions with the EU).

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