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Northern Ireland's complicated political picture remains in a state of flux following the resignation last night of Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Edwin Poots. It is unclear whether newly-installed First Minister Paul Givan will or can remain in office. The infighting within the DUP shows the major schisms evident within the unionist political environment at present, and there remains the risk of a significant deterioration in political stability in Northern Ireland in the near future.

  • Poots, who had led the DUP for just 21 days, resigned after a major backlash within the DUP to the agreement between Poots, the republican Sinn Fein party, and the UK gov't over the commitment to passing legislation giving legal status to the Irish language in exchange for re-forming the power-sharing executive with Givan as FM.
  • Sir Jeffrey Donaldson - Poots' only other challenger in the previous leadership challenge - is favourite to take over as head of the DUP, the largest unionist (pro-UK union) party in Northern Ireland.
  • The DUP faces a tough period ahead, with the unionist/loyalist community up in arms about both the compromise on the Irish language bill and the Northern Ireland protocol that is part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement (which is causing trade issues between NI and GB, and raising political tensions between the UK and EU). The party also has to keep an eye on the Stormont elections coming up in 2022, where it trails Sinn Fein in the few recent polls carried out by some distance.
  • It is unclear whether the next DUP leader will be able to take over as first minister, with Givan having been officially installed on Thursday the mechanism to remove him from office is complex, meaning that he could feasibly remain as FM without having the backing of the DUP - a recipe for further instability.
MNI London Bureau | +44 203-865-0981 |

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