DUP Confirms it Will Vote Against Prime Minister’s Brexit Deal

Sammy Wilson, the Brexit spokesperson for the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has confirmed that it will not back the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal. The confirmation, although expected, will make it harder for Theresa May to secure his favoured withdrawal agreement.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme Wilson said:

“It’s not just because of the regulations which Northern Ireland would be subject to with the backstop, but also the fact we would have to treat the rest of the United Kingdom as a third country, we would not participate in any trade deals which the United Kingdom may enter into in the future and we would find that there would be a border down the Irish Sea which would impede trade with our biggest trading partner, namely GB”.

Nigel Dodds, the deputy leader of the DUP, said in a statement:

“The Irish Republic’s ‘no deal’ preparations published just before Christmas have laid bare the nonsense propaganda about a hard border. No one wants a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Indeed, its becoming clearer by the day that no one is ever going to construct such a border. With this clarity emerging in London, Dublin and Brussels, there is evidently no need for the aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement which have been so vigorously opposed by a broad cross section of the House of Commons”.

Prime Ministers Calls Representatives from Sinn Fein and the DUP After Talks Collapse

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has contacted representatives from Sinn Fein and the DUP following the collapse of power sharing talks in Northern Ireland. Despite hopes for an agreement there is limited hope of any substantial progress being made in the near future.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“The Prime Minister spoke to the leaders of Sinn Fein and the DUP on the phone earlier this evening about the recent phase of political talks in Northern Ireland. In both phone calls the Prime Minister expressed her disappointment that an agreement had not yet been reached despite recent progress being made by everyone involved.

She reiterated how the government remains absolutely committed to restoring an Executive and that it is still her firm belief that restoring devolved government – so that democratically elected politicians can make locally accountable decisions – is in the best interests of everyone in Northern Ireland.

The Prime Minister was clear that she still believes the basis for an agreement exists and recognised the leadership both parties had shown over past weeks and months. She urged them both to reflect on the recent phase of talks in order to find the best way forward.

On next steps, the Prime Minister was clear that the UK government has a responsibility to consider what needed to be done to protect the interests of Northern Ireland in the ongoing absence of an Executive. She added that the Northern Ireland Secretary would continue to work closely with the parties, and the Irish Government in accordance with the three stranded approach, to support that process”.

DUP to Vote Against Government on NHS Pay

Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP, has confirmed that her party intends to vote with the Labour Party on amendments relating to NHS pay and tuition fees. The vote, which is expected to take place next week, would be the first time that the DUP have failed to support the Government since the coalition which was formed following the 2017 General Election.

The votes will not be binding on the Government, meaning that the official agreement between the Conservative Party and the DUP won’t be broken.

Government Confirms that it Will Seek Parliamentary Approval for £1 Billion DUP Deal

Gina Miller

The Government has confirmed that it will seek Parliamentary approval for the £1 billion deal that was reached between the DUP and the Conservative Party following the 2017 General Election. The deal agreed by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, and Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP, ensured that the Conservative Party had a sufficient majority in the House of Commons .

Gina Miller, who also funded legal challenges on Brexit, called for the Government to ensure that Parliament would be allowed to vote on the matter. In a statement she said:

“It beggars belief that, neither at the time the government sealed its dubious deal with the DUP in exchange for their votes in the Commons, nor at any point since, has the government made it clear that the £1bn of taxpayers’ money for Northern Ireland could only be handed over following parliamentary approval”.

The DUP Make Formal Complaint about Stephen McCann

The DUP have made a formal complaint to the Local Government Commissioner in Northern Ireland after Stephen McCann, the Council Chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, refused to condemn the 1987 Enniskillen bombing.

A spokesman for the DUP said in a statement:

“The chairman’s failure to condemn the 1987 Enniskillen bomb and his glorification of convicted IRA terrorist Seamus McElwaine was outrageous and caused hurt to many. The chairman is the first citizen and should be marked as being someone who unites rather than divides. Councillor McCann has tarnished the chairman’s position”.

McCann is yet to comment on complaint, but said that he “wanted to speak for all”. His refusal to condemn the bombings was made in an interview with The Impartial Reporter.

No Agreement on Power Sharing in Northern Ireland

No agreement has been reached following power sharing talks in Northern Ireland after the elections which were held on 2 March 2017. The two largest parties in the Assembly, Sinn Fein and the DUP, failed to reach agreement and have blamed each other for the delay, with the deadline for agreement now exceeded.

Nigel Dodds, the Deputy Leader of the DUP, said:

“It is very clear from the people they had at the talks that they were very focused on their southern election prospects, that is deeply regrettable”.

Gerry Adams, the President of Sinn Fein, said:

“The DUP’s approach thus far has been to engage in a minimalist way on all of the key issues, including legacy issues, an Irish Language Act, a Bill of Rights, and marriage equality”.

James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has said that he will continue to try to reach agreement with the major parties in the process. He said on Sunday 26 March 2017:

“I have spoken to the Prime Minister this afternoon and this remains the UK government’s continuing priority”.

 

Northern Ireland Assembly Temporarily Suspended over Arlene Foster Statement

The Northern Ireland Assembly has been briefly suspended this morning after disagreement over a statement that was to be made by Arlene Foster, the First Minister. Foster was to make a statement on the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme (RHI) which has proved controversial and went significantly over-budget.

Due to power sharing arrangements in the Province the office of the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister have joint responsibility for the Northern Ireland Executive. Martin McGuinness, the Deputy First Minister, has said that he does not support the making of the speech made by Foster.

The Assembly was suspended for thirty minutes after most Assembly members walked out of the chamber, with the exception of the DUP, the party led by Foster. When it reconvened there were a string of point of orders to Robin Newton, the Speaker of the Assembly. Newton responded that the Northern Ireland Executive had authorised the speech, even though the Deputy First Minister had withdrawn his support.

The speech that the First Minister was making related to RHI which was a scheme introduced in November 2012 to encourage an increase in renewable energy. The Minister at the time responsible for the introduction of the scheme was Arlene Foster, who is now the First Minister. The cost of the scheme cost £1 billion and Foster admitted to “a catalogue of mistakes which resulted in a perfect storm”. She accepted “full responsibility” for the scheme and said that she wanted to respond to the Assembly at the earliest stage, even without the approval of the Deputy First Minister.

The Treasury will contribute £600 million to finance the scheme, but the Assembly will have to fund £400 million from its block grant over the next twenty years. This will mean that £20 million will now be spent on the failed scheme every year, although Foster has said that she intends to reduce the total cost of the scheme.

Theresa Villiers Condemns Act of Terrorism in East Belfast

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Theresa Villiers, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has condemned the placing of an explosive device under a serving prison officer’s car.

The explosion on Hillsborough Drive has seriously injured the 52 year old prison officer.

Villiers said:

“I utterly condemn this vicious attack on a prison officer in East Belfast.

Like all his colleagues in the prison service, this officer serves the whole of the community, in stark contrast to the people who carried out this appalling and violent crime.

I strongly urge anyone with information about this murder attempt to contact the police to help bring those responsible to justice”.

Arlene Foster, the Leader of DUP, said:

“Disgraceful and despicable attack in East Belfast”.

Peter Robinson, the Northern Ireland First Minister, has stood down

Peter Robinson, the First Minister of Northern Ireland and leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), has stood down after weeks of disagreement in the Province. The crisis started following the murder of Kevin McGuigan, who was a former member of the IRA, when the Police Service of Northern Ireland said that the IRA were implicated in his killing.

Robinson said in a statement:

“The failure of the SDLP and Sinn Fein to implement the Stormont House Agreement together with the assessment from the Chief Constable of the involvement of IRA members in murder, the continued existence of the IRA and the arrests that followed has pushed devolution to the brink”.

Downing Street said in a statement:

The Prime Minister is gravely concerned about the situation in Northern Ireland following developments there today.

“Earlier this afternoon, the Prime Minister spoke with Peter Robinson. While acknowledging the gravity of the situation, the Prime Minister told Mr Robinson that the UK Government did not believe it would be right to introduce emergency legislation now to suspend the Assembly.

They discussed options for what more the UK Government could do to comprehensively address all remaining paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland.

The PM underlined the need for intensive cross party talks to identify ways to tackle all paramilitary groups and to get on with implementation of the Stormont House Agreement

The Prime Minister said that there should be a return to the spirit that had seen politicians show such leadership over the years to deliver a peace process that has inspired people across the world.

The Government objective is clear: we want to work with political leaders for a Northern Ireland where politics works, the economy grows and which is no longer defined by its divided past but by its shared future”.

Arlene Foster, the current Minister for Finance in Northern Ireland, has taken on the role of acting First Minister.

Downing Street has confirmed that David Cameron has met with DUP leader Peter Robinson

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Downing Street has confirmed that David Cameron, the Prime Minister, and Theresa Villiers, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, have met for urgent talks with Peter Robinson, the First Minister and leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

The meeting comes after the Ulster Unionist Party withdrew from the Northern Executive last week over allegations that members of the Provisional IRA were involved with the murder of Kevin McGuigan.

Downing Street issued a statement saying:

“The Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland met with the leader of the DUP Peter Robinson in Downing Street this afternoon. They discussed the current challenges facing the institutions following the murder of Kevin McGuigan and the lack of progress to implement the Stormont House Agreement.

The Prime Minister recognised the gravity of the current situation and the need to rebuild trust and confidence in the political process in Northern Ireland . He reiterated his commitment to the devolved institutions and to tackling any remaining paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland.

The Prime Minister has asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to hold further urgent talks with the political parties in Northern Ireland and the Irish Government with the aim of agreeing a way forward that builds a better future for the people of Northern Ireland”.