26 September 2023

NORTHERN IRELAND: PS head in talks as Executive stalls

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Northern Ireland politicians have met Head of the Public Service, Jayne Brady to discuss what work is possible amid the continuing impasse over forming a new Executive for the Province.

Formation of a new Executive has been blocked by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) which has said it would not nominate Ministers until the United Kingdom Government took action over its concerns around the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The Protocol governs special trade arrangements for the Province following the UK’s exit from the European Union (Brexit).

It essentially places a border between Northern Ireland and the UK in the Irish Sea.

This allows free movement between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, an EU member, which is a key demand of Sinn Féin, the other party in the power-sharing agreement with the DUP.

While Ministers remain in place in a caretaker role, they cannot take new decisions.

Sinn Féin Leader, Michelle O’Neill said she regretted that five weeks after the Assembly election the DUP was still “boycotting” the Executive.

Ms O’Neill said issues with the Protocol could be “worked on in tandem” while the Executive continued to function.

She said the parties had met with Ms Brady (pictured).

“We were discussing the need to agree a program for Government, agree a Budget, agree a work plan for the year ahead,” Ms O’Neill said.

“However, you only can take those things so far, of course, because we do not have a functioning Assembly and an Executive.”

A previous collapse of the power-sharing agreement in 2017 resulted in the Province essentially being run by its Public Service for almost three years.

Belfast, 8 June 2022

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