Home World News after its victory in the elections, Sinn Féin will have to scrap...

after its victory in the elections, Sinn Féin will have to scrap to govern

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A new period is beginning for Northern Ireland. When it was created in 1921, the province’s boundary was drawn to ensure that a majority of Unionists (British and predominantly Protestant community) would rule it. But 101 years later, the course of history has just been reversed. With 27 seats in the local assembly and 29% of the direct votes, Sinn Féin, which represents the Irish community of Catholic culture, has for the very first time the right to appoint the Prime Minister. But things will not be so simple.

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First, it will be necessary to negotiate with the DUP, the main unionist party, which has 25 seats and 21.3% of the vote. In power since 2007, the DUP refuses for the time being to sit. “We will not appoint ministers until the UK government has made a decision on the Protocol”, said its president, Jeffrey Donaldson. This provision of the Brexit agreement aims to protect the European common market, of which Northern Ireland is still a part, by placing controls on products transiting from Great Britain to the province. For a large part of the Unionists, it is an unbearable estrangement. Last February, the DUP therefore brought down the government in protest. For its leader, the current blockage results from ” [leur] position before the campaign, during the election, and which is still the same today”.

Joint governance

Sinn Féin has said it wants to get back to work immediately, but the province must be governed jointly by a representative from each of the two communities. If no government is formed within six months, new elections may be called. Other ministers may be appointed by then, but their powers will be limited and decision-making on major issues (reform of the health system, budgets, etc.) will be impossible. In the meantime, warns Northern Ireland specialist Mary C Murphy, it will take “make concessions”. The devolution government and its Assembly have certainly existed since the 1998 Peace Accords, but the institutions have already been remodeled. “We are heading a priori towards a new period of adaptations. We must also take into account what is happening in the rest of the United Kingdom with questions of independence in Scotland, and look at the place of the European Union. If it is possible to find an agreement on the Protocol that is sufficient for DUP to sit, it would calm the political game in Northern Ireland. » This is out of the question for Sinn Féin, which recalls that the majority in the Assembly is now in favor of the said Protocol.

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The other file on which the Republicans will have to look into is the opening of a “healthy debate” on the question of reunification, both in the North and in the South of the island. According to a poll of April 5, only a third of Northern Irish people would vote “for” if the question was asked immediately. And in the streets of Dublin, passers-by are not yet convinced. “My mother comes from the North and remembers the civil war”explains Valérie, 28, an insurance employee. “Even if everyone has a romantic vision of reunification, it must not generate new violence. » Carl, 32, admits he has never set foot across the border, “for fear of anti-Irish sentiment”.

Immediately after the election results, Island-wide Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald announced that a referendum would be “Possible in the next 5 years”. For her, “the preparation starts now”according to a process that should be “democratic, and entirely peaceful”. The party is also targeting the 2025 elections in the Republic of Ireland. In 2020, Sinn Féin won the most votes (24.5% of the votes) and still maintains this lead in the polls, thanks to its left-wing program that speaks to young people and families. The two historical parties had however preferred to make an alliance with the Greens to govern, relegating Mary Lou McDonald to the rank of leader of the opposition. “It’s tempting to vote for them because the current government tends to forget young people” admits Jenna, in her thirties, who walks along one of the main arteries of the capital. “ But Sinn Féin’s problem remains its troubled past and its links with the IRA. she tempers. A past that is gradually being erased and perhaps giving way to new perspectives.

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