Northern Ireland Deal Published: UK Government and DUP Reach Agreement to Restore Devolution

Belfast, Northern Ireland – The UK government and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) have published the details of a deal aimed at restoring devolution in Northern Ireland. The power-sharing government in Stormont has been boycotted by the DUP for the past two years in protest of post-Brexit trade rules. The agreement includes measures to reduce checks and paperwork on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, particularly for goods staying in Northern Ireland. These changes are expected to be acceptable to the EU and will provide maximum flexibility allowed under the previous EU/UK deal.

Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris presented the deal in the House of Commons, calling it the right one for both Northern Ireland and the union. He emphasized the importance of politicians working together and urged them to come together for the benefit of the province. The deal is seen as a significant step towards restoring power sharing and ensuring accountable government for the people of Northern Ireland.

The DUP leader, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, expressed his satisfaction with the deal and praised Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for delivering on promises where previous leaders had not. He stated that the deal removes the Irish Sea border for goods coming in from the UK, eliminating the need for customs declarations and physical checks at Northern Ireland ports.

The agreement is expected to be fast-tracked through Parliament on Thursday, with the first meeting of the new assembly likely to take place on Saturday and the first executive meeting on Monday. Sinn Féin, the largest party in Northern Ireland, would be entitled to nominate Michelle O’Neill for the position of first minister, making her the first person from a nationalist background to hold the role. The DUP, as the second largest party, would have the opportunity to nominate a deputy first minister.

While the deal has been praised as a positive step towards restoring power sharing, some parties, such as the Ulster Unionist Party, expressed frustration at being kept out of the detail of the agreement. The finer points of the deal are expected to be discussed and reviewed in the coming days.

Overall, the publication of this deal is seen as a significant development in the ongoing efforts to restore power sharing and provide a brighter future for Northern Ireland. The government is hopeful that these measures will be well received and that they will lay the foundation for a stronger and more united province.