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DUP leader Edwin Poots leaves new turmoil for Northern Ireland

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The leader of Northern Ireland’s largest political party has agreed to leave, just three weeks after taking office, a dramatic culmination for a row on how to continue the government’s sharing of power. region.

Edwin Poots announced his resignation as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party in a statement by email following a four-hour meeting with DUP officials in Belfast. He shall remain in office until his successor is appointed.

The creationist, who had been brought to power promising to be tougher on fundamental unionist issues, had been expected to face a vote of no confidence after challenging the party and in effect accepting concessions with the nationalist Sinn Féin party for save the government from sharing power by falling.

“This has been a difficult period for the party and the country,” Poots said in his resignation statement, adding that he had “conveyed to the president my determination to do everything I can to ensure that the ‘unionism and Northern Ireland should be able to move to a stronger place’.

Earlier on Thursday, Poots had challenged a DUP vote and appointed Paul Givan as the new Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, allowing the government to continue sharing Stormont’s power with Sinn Féin, which had convinced Westminster to accelerate legislation advancing the Irish language.

DUP members opposed both the beginning of the London intervention and the fact that Sinn Féin had won a concession.

The revolt against Poots is the latest sign of turmoil in Northern Ireland which has been fueled by the terms of the British Brexit deal with the EU.

Sammy Wilson, a former DUP deputy, publicly criticized Poots ’nomination to Givan on Thursday afternoon and had refused to cast a vote of no confidence in his leadership.

“The numbers are worse than they were against Arlene [Foster]”, Had said a person familiar with the situation before the meeting with party officials, referring to the dismissal of Poots’ predecessor in April after she lost the support of DUP politicians.

Prime Minister Paul Givan makes his acceptance speech © Brian Lawless / PA

Sinn Féin had said it would continue in the administration only if legislation to strengthen the status of the Irish language was passed quickly in Stormont.

The DUP had refused, but the impasse was broken on Wednesday evening when the UK government indicated it would pass legislation in Westminster.

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The move had paved the way for Poots to nominate Givan as Foster’s successor as Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. Sinn Féin has appointed Michelle O’Neill as deputy prime minister.

But Wilson said DUP lawmakers and party members in Stormont had said “very, very clearly” in a vote Thursday that they were against the immediate nomination of Poots Givan.

“It’s hard to be confident in who you put aside the views firmly held by all the various sections of the party and move forward,” Wilson added, referring to Poots.

“I guarantee that most people are unionists. . . he will be afraid that the powers of the assembly will be. . . be set aside to promote a Sinn Féin niche interest ”.

Conor Murphy of Sinn Féin, Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O'Neill at a Stormont press conference

From left: Conor Murphy of Sinn Féin, Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill at a Stormont press conference © David Young / PA

Poots had said he presented Givan without “a precondition from Sinn Féin” and the aim was to make Northern Ireland “a better place for everyone”.

Mary Lou McDonald, head of Sinn Féin, said on Wednesday she had asked Westminster to intervene because it had become “very clear” that the DUP would not give priority to Irish-language legislation.

Poots has been DUP leader for less than three weeks, taking over Foster’s leadership after Brexit played a major role in his ousting as DUP leader and prime minister.

Deirdre Heenan, a professor of social policy at the University of Ulster, said earlier that it was “difficult to overestimate the political and strategic failure of the Poots putch”.

“That DUP [members at Stormont] and lawmakers voted against the nomination to the prime minister reflecting anger and disorder in the party, ”he added.


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