London extends deadline for Northern Ireland elections

James Cleverly, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs

The former civil war region has not had a functioning government since late October.

(Photo: IMAGO/photothek)

London, Belfast The British government wants to legally delay a new election in Northern Ireland. A corresponding bill by Minister Chris Heaton-Harris, which is due to be tabled in Parliament on Monday, sets a new deadline for forming a government of December 8th.

This can then be extended again until January 19th. If the two most important parties from the two denominational camps still cannot agree on a unity government, new elections would have to be held by April 13 at the latest.

The draft also envisages cutting the salary of regional MPs by a third and strengthening the decision-making powers of senior government officials. The law addresses the realities in Britain’s provinces during the political impasse, said Northern Ireland Minister Heaton-Harris.

The former civil war region has not had a functioning government since late October. The main Protestant Unionist party, the DUP, is boycotting the mandatory formation of a unity government with the strongest Catholic Republican party, Sinn Fein, because of a dispute over special Brexit rules. London had therefore announced new elections as planned. Heaton-Harris called on the DUP to negotiate.

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According to experts, the political stalemate is increasingly endangering the security situation. Most recently, two police officers had survived a bomb attack unharmed. Investigators arrested four men, but they were soon released. The terrorist organization New IRA, which is fighting for unification with neighboring Ireland, is suspected. In the decades-long civil war between mostly Catholic advocates of reunification and the usually Protestant supporters of the Union with Great Britain thousands of people had been killed.

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