Northern Ireland: The DUP at odds with the Sunak deal – Politics

Northern Ireland: The DUP at odds with the Sunak deal – Politics

When Rishi Sunak presented his Brexit deal in Windsor, he first recalled a heinous act in the Northern Irish city of Omagh. Masked men had shot at a police officer there last week, he was seriously injured. The New IRA has since claimed responsibility. The New IRA is a coalition of splinter groups from the paramilitary Irish Republican Army (IRA), which fought for decades to unite Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland. The conflict between Republican Catholics who want a united Ireland and Unionist Protestants who want that Northern Ireland What remains part of the UK has been largely at peace since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. However, some militants remain active to this day. And so memories keep coming back, even now, after the shooting in Omagh.

It was apparently important to Sunak to express his condolences to the police officer and his family. The British Prime Minister showed that he is very well aware of what is on the minds of people in Northern Ireland. The exact background of the act is still unclear, but so far there is no evidence that it is connected to the Brexit stands. Whether this is the case is always being checked in Northern Ireland, because since the EU left, paramilitary groups on the unionist side in particular have made no secret of the fact that they consider former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal to be an attack on democracy. After all, Johnson ensured that Northern Ireland was no longer an equal part of the United Kingdom.

For the DUP, the Northern Ireland Protocol is an absolute no-go

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) takes a similar view. Its members consider Johnson’s agreement to be a disaster, more precisely: the Northern Ireland Protocol. It states that the British provinces will remain in the EU internal market de facto after Brexit – and will therefore continue to be bound by EU law. For the DUP, the Northern Ireland protocol is an absolute no-go. And the reason the party has refused to form a government since the Northern Ireland regional election in May. So the question is: will Sunak’s deal bring government back to Belfast?

The Prime Minister traveled to Northern Ireland on Tuesday to convince the DUP that the “Windsor Framework” now all their concerns are cleared. “I’m confident,” said Sunak. And when asked if he would go ahead with his deal without the DUP’s approval, the PM said: “It’s not about me or any political party. It’s about what’s best for Northern Ireland.”

The Northern Irish parliament can pull an emergency brake against EU regulations

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson said on Tuesday that his party must first review the details of the deal. “We’ll take our time,” he said. While progress had been made, there were still some questions. Probably the biggest concern of the DUP is the fact that Northern Ireland would still be in the EU single market even with Sunak’s deal. This means that Belfast must continue to adopt all Brussels regulations in the future. In Sunak’s deal, however, there is now the so-called “Stormont Brake”, named after the Stormont Estate, where the Northern Irish Parliament is based. According to Sunak’s deal, MPs can pull the emergency brake in “extraordinary circumstances” and speak out against adopting a new single market rule.

The prerequisite for this is that 30 of the 90 MPs from at least two parties vote against it. Once the brakes are on, the relevant new rule will initially not apply in Northern Ireland. If the British government agrees to the veto from Belfast, a dispute settlement process between London and Brussels will begin. However, the brake does not change the fact that at the end of a dispute there is only one court that is allowed to make a judgment: the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Donaldson welcomed this brake, but it is important to check the details. Not everyone in his party was as diplomatic as Donaldson. The DUP group leader in the British House of Commons, Sammy Wilson, expressed concerns about whether the brakes would be enough to fully restore Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom. Ian Paisley, one of the hardliners in the DUP, believes that Sunak’s deal is not enough, literally saying: “This does not cut the mustard.”

The DUP isn’t the only party that might give Sunak a bit of a headache. Even among his Tories, the hardcore Brexiteers are scrutinizing the deal very closely.

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