Paul Givan: Northern Ireland Prime Minister resigns, ending ‘privilege of my life’ | Political news
Northern Ireland Prime Minister Paul Givan has announced his resignation.
The move is part of the DUP’s escalation strategy against the Northern Ireland Protocol – part of the Brexit deal which was agreed by both sides and is designed to prevent a hard border on the island from Ireland.
The MP for Lagan Valley said: “Today marks the end of what has been the privilege of my life – to be Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.
“When I first entered the Assembly 12 years ago, I did not expect to have the opportunity to lead the government and serve the people of Northern Ireland as First Minister.
“To hold this office is a task that comes with a heavy responsibility and I have often felt the weight of that burden, to do what is right for all of our people.”
It is understood senior DUP The figures came together on Thursday to confirm the timing of Mr Givan’s declaration of resignation.
He had been in office for a little over eight months.
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis called Mr Givan’s decision to step down “hugely disappointing”.
In a statement, Mr Lewis said: ‘I urge them to reinstate the Prime Minister immediately to ensure the necessary delivery of public services to the citizens of Northern Ireland.’
The announcement comes less than 24 hours after DUP Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots ordered a halt to agri-food controls at North Ireland harbors.
Mr Givan told reporters: ‘Our institutions are again being tested, and the delicate balance created by the Belfast and St Andrew agreements has been affected by the agreement reached between the UK Government and the European Union which created the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“The principle of consent is a cornerstone of the Belfast Agreement and I sincerely hope that all sections of the community will soon be able to give their consent to the restoration of a fully functioning executive, through a resolution of the issues which have unfortunately brought us to this point.”
Speaking after Mr Givan’s resignation, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the Northern Ireland protocol ‘poses an existential threat to the future of Northern Ireland’s place within of the Union”.
Brexit fallout cost Stormont two prime ministers in eight months
The fallout from Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol cost Stormont two prime ministers in the space of eight months.
As unionist tension rose over the Irish Sea border, the DUP ousted Arlene Foster as leader and prime minister last year.
Now, with an election looming, the party has ended Paul Givan’s brief tenure as head of the devolved government.
The largest Unionist party is clearly trying to build support ahead of the next Northern Ireland Assembly poll in May.
But the departure of the Prime Minister and, by default, the Deputy Prime Minister will not necessarily resolve the contentious issue.
The British government has agreed to Brexit controls between Britain and Northern Ireland to avoid a border on this island of Ireland.
The EU insists the UK cannot breach an international agreement whether or not Northern Ireland has a Prime Minister.
Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said he was “deeply concerned” by Mr Givan’s resignation, which he called a “very damaging decision”.
“The protocol is part of an international treaty agreed and ratified by the UK and the EU, to protect the Good Friday Agreement in all its dimensions,” its spokesperson said.
“The UK has an obligation under international law and its own domestic law to ensure it meets its obligations under the protocol.”
The spokesman added that Mr Martin urged the DUP ‘to return to full engagement with all the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement and to avoid any action which could harm peace and stability in Northern Ireland. North”.
Mr Givan’s departure means that Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill automatically loses her job as Deputy First Minister – because under power-sharing agreements in Northern Ireland the roles of First and Deputy First Ministers are a joint office shared between the two largest parties in Stormont.
It is believed that other administration ministers will remain in place to oversee their departments.
But the executive will not be able to make important decisions – such as approving the three-year budget spending plan which is currently subject to public consultation.
Sinn Fein had called for a snap election in Stormont in response to reports of the imminent departure of the DUP premier.
Mr Poots issued an instruction on Wednesday evening ordering officials to stop agri-food checks at midnight.
However, Stormont officials have not confirmed whether they intend to comply with the order.
As of Thursday morning, lorries were still being received at a Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Daera) screening facility in the port of Belfast.
The prime minister’s official spokesman told reporters the checks were continuing despite orders to stop them and that the prime minister wanted them to continue while talks with the EU continued.
Read more: What is the Northern Ireland Protocol?
Environment Secretary George Eustice later told the Commons that there had “not yet been any operational changes on the ground” in terms of Northern Ireland’s protocol checks.
Mr Eustice added that his officials ‘continue to liaise’ with their counterparts in Northern Ireland, adding that it is ‘too early to say what the legal position is’.
He added that the government recognizes that the Northern Ireland protocol “causes significant problems” in its current form and remains “committed” to finding solutions.
The European Commission said the decision creates “further uncertainty and unpredictability”.
“The European Commission has worked tirelessly with the UK government to address the practical challenges of implementing the protocol,” a Commission spokesperson said.
“The decision of the Northern Ireland Minister for Agriculture (Edwin Poots) is therefore unnecessary. It creates further uncertainty and unpredictability for businesses and citizens in Northern Ireland.
“The European Commission will closely follow developments in Northern Ireland in line with this announcement.”
The spokesman added that European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic would meet with Foreign Minister Liz Truss on Thursday afternoon to continue negotiations aimed at reducing the number of checks required by the protocol. ‘North Ireland.
The UK government has said it will not intervene in what it said is the problem that Stormont is responsible for.