Northern Ireland Heading to the polls
The Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire has confirmed that Northern Ireland will be facing a election, scheduled for March 2nd.
Speaking to reporters in Belfast, Mr Brokenshire stated that he had no choice following Sinn Fein’s refusal to nominate a deputy first minister to replace Martin McGuinness, who resigned after The DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) refused demands for First Minister Arlene Foster in the wake of a botched renewable energy scheme.
Mr Brokenshire said:
“No-one should underestimate the challenge faced to the political institutions here in Northern Ireland and what is at stake. While it is inevitable that debate during an election period will be intense, I would strongly encourage the political parties to conduct this election with a view to the future of Northern Ireland and re-establishing a partnership government at the earliest opportunity after that poll.”
Under the Northern Ireland Act and the St Andrew’s Agreement, if the two largest parties, typically one unionist and one nationalist party cannot agree to form a executive to control Stormont, then it is likely that direct rule from Westminster will be introduced.
The latest scandal follows in the wake of a renewable energy scheme that ran over budget and could cost the Northern Irish taxpayer £50million to sort out, although the DUP claims that they can eliminate the overspend, rumoured to cost over £490million.
Reaction across the political spectrum has been swift
Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt, who put the UUP into opposition following the elections in May last year, said the following:
“The people of Northern Ireland should be disappointed and angry by the developments that have culminated in the inevitable collapse of this mandate in just eight months.
“I encourage them to express that anger and frustration by coming out to vote. They’ve had 10 years of the DUP and Sinn Féin.
“You need no more proof they’re incapable of working together.”
Social Democratic and Labour Leader, Coloum Eastwood, claimed that it was accountability that took down the power sharing executive:
“We told people eight months ago these parties could not deliver. We told them they needed a programme for government but they (Sinn Féin and the DUP) did not listen.
“It only took 7 months of proper accountability and opposition for this government to collapse.”