The writer is an MP for Skipton and Ripon and a former foreign minister for Northern Ireland
The Northern Ireland parliamentary election results – Sinn Féin’s success, the explosion of Middle-class Coalition Party and the position of the Democratic Unionist party – will be the source of important political debates and maneuvers in the days to come. There will be temptation by the parties to follow the usual post-election process and launch negotiations to set up the governing body – the Northern Ireland executive – and avoid going back to work. But doing so would be to ignore the bread-and-butter issues that voters prioritize at this election.
This weekend’s work by the two Good Friday Agreement co-guarantors – the UK and Ireland, with help from the US – must make the case to the EU that there are many backlog issues with the Northern Ireland protocol , post adjustment. – Tradexit, needs to be resolved urgently, and to the general satisfaction of the Union community. Existing protocol negotiations need to get up to speed in order to deliver a quick political solution.
While many citizens and businesses in Northern Ireland are more satisfied with the protocol than recent rhetoric suggests, however, there are some significant problems with it and political unification needed These are quickly remedied. Lasting change will only come from the EU demonstrating its commitment to a successful Northern Ireland by supporting a global peace success story with an increasingly bright future. This is not about the Brexiteers in the European Study Group at Westminster, but about what is needed to reach the consensus of the Party Members during the meeting at Stormont.
But aside from problems with protocol, there is little other reason for politicians in Northern Ireland to delay the creation of an executive body – Nationalists taking the position of First Minister certainly Definitely not one of them. The only protective reality of power sharing agreementfor both nationalists and collectivists, regardless of the election result they get as first minister or first deputy minister with equal powers, while the votes congress is protected to ensure public consensus.
So if there are slow threats, someone needs to be paid to sit with the average person and give constant reminders and reassurances to politicians and insist that, under the Good Friday Agreement, both nationalists and collectivists will be able to protect their interests in the new conditions of operation and assembly. There is no universal need for a border poll, and the power to hold one nonetheless remains in the hands of the UK government. And, as is the case with calls for another Scottish independence referendum, the chances of Boris Johnson participating in an independence referendum are virtually nil.
Some might talk about the prospect of a political crisis in the coming days. But the main concern for most people in Northern Ireland, as in the rest of the UK, is the cost of living. Voters would not thank politicians if they weren’t caught up in the task of relieving pressure on family finances. The days of guild members getting paid for three years when not attending Stormont are gone. Voters will not support it.
From Monday, Northern Irish politicians will face a long list of issues to deal with, especially the lack of budget. New Head of Northern Ireland Civil Service Jayne Brady They certainly had the idea to ease the cost of living burden, but the list of urgent decisions waiting to be made is long. The sole focus of politicians and civil servants must be to get the Northern Ireland executive up and running – not in months or weeks but days.
Other ideas for parties to agree to run, such as rule changes at Stormont, should be shelved, although measures may need to be put in place to protect the rising Coalition party in long-term. Time is of the essence. Northern Ireland’s political parties need to focus on voters and get back to work.