Jeffrey Donaldsonolder, part of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP, for its acronym in English), defended this Monday in London the restoration of a divided government in Northern Ireland as a sign of “hope and confidence in the future.” “Northern Ireland offers hope based on respect and tolerance,” the Northern Ireland parliamentarian reiterated, stressing the national identity of the population of the divided autonomous territory of Britain amid unresolved issues.
Donaldson appeared with his colleague and close collaborator in the Westminster Parliament, Kevin Robinson, before members of the Foreign Press Association (FPA) 10 days after the establishment of the Belfast Assembly and the appointment of the Northern Irish Executive, both of whom are women. for the first time in the centuries-old history of Northern Ireland.
The DUP boycotted the autonomous institutions for two years in protest of the implementation of the Brexit agreement, and the return of the Stormont Parliament put the party in second place in relation to its political rivals, the formation of the Irish Republic. Sinn Fein.
“There is symbolism in the positions, but they are equal before the law,” Donaldson said in reference to Sinn Fein’s number two nominee, Michelle O’Neill, as the chief minister of the province. The lawyer Emma Little-Pengelly, who was chosen by Donaldson himself as the successor to his autonomous functions, holds the position of deputy prime minister.
No one can make decisions without the consensus of their peers, taking into account the principle of consensus of the two communities established by the Good Friday Agreement and Beffast, which underpin the framework of the peace process.
Sinn Fein took advantage of seeing the new position in Belfast to predict the political reunification of the island of Ireland within six years. In his FPA meeting, Donaldson downplayed the “charged rhetoric” of Republicans, who, as he noted with irony, are sharing the reins of government with a British province whose existence they have rejected since partitioning the island in the last century.
“Unity (in Ireland) is a valid aspiration for Sinn Fein and others, but there is a long way to go to build a majority in their favor in Northern Ireland. We are not there,” he said in London.
Robinson also noted that Irish nationalism has gained electoral ground in recent years. In the 2022 regional elections, Sinn Fein gained more support than the DUP, but the nationalist-republican bloc dropped by three points compared to the previous quote.
“Sinn Fein is growing at the expense of the SDLP,” said Donaldson, referring to the moderate Irish nationalist party led by Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume. The DUP leader resigned his Stormont seat, which he won in the institutional boycott phase, to negotiate a revision of the protocol of Brexit directly with the British government. He plans to maintain his presence in Westminster until Prime Minister Rishi Sunak calls the general election scheduled for the fall, in the face of consistent opinion polls that point to a major defeat for the conservatives. “We are pragmatic, and we can work well with Labour,” Donaldson smiled before ending his meeting with foreign media in London.