Democratic Unionist Party accepts UK government’s proposal to restore Northern Ireland power-sharing plan News
Chris McAndrew, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Democratic Unionist Party accepts UK government’s proposal to restore Northern Ireland power-sharing plan

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) agreed Tuesday to the UK government’s deal regarding the restoration of Stormont power-sharing in Northern Ireland and the operation of the Windsor Framework. DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson announced the decision on X (formerly Twitter), stating the government will “publish new measures that are designed to restore Northern Ireland’s place within the United Kingdom and its internal market.” He further stated that “these measures will remove the shadow of the protocol and safeguard our place within the union.”

The decision comes following the collapse of the Stormont Assembly (Northern Ireland Assembly) in February 2022, in a protest against the Northern Ireland Protocol, signed in January 2020. The Northern Ireland Protocol, which entered into force in January 2021, was set up following Brexit as a trade deal in order to maintain cooperation between the two regions and “avoid a hard border”. The protest, which was led by the DUP, was aimed at destroying the measures set up by the protocol which requires merchandise entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain to be checked, as they argued it damages Northern Ireland’s place in the UK internal market.

The collapse of the Stormont assembly significantly hindered the country officials’ ability to make decisions regarding the public sector budget, making way for the largest strike action the country has ever witnessed, impacting services such as health, education, public transport and the roads. Moreover, it blocked a crucial organ donation legislation, known as Dáithí’s Law, from being passed.

In February 2023, the UK government signed the Windsor Framework with the European Union based on the Northern Ireland protocol, which the DUP has previously declined to acknowledge. The Windsor Framework differs from the protocol, as it differentiates between merchandise arriving from Great Britain that will remain in Northern Ireland, which are not subject to checks, and that which will be sent to the EU.

The UK government’s new trade deal, Safeguarding the Union, was introduced to remedy the lacunas raised following the conclusion of the Windsor Framework and the objective of which is to strengthen Northern Ireland’s “integral place in the UK’s internal market.” The measures put in place by the deal follow the Windsor Framework’s main aims in that it will help “eliminate any physical checks when goods move within the UK internal market system”, and will consequently bring changes to the deal between Great Britain “by transitioning to a new approach which scraps the requirements in the old Protocol for both international customs paperwork and supplementary declarations.”

Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Chris Heaton-Harris, shared a statement following the meeting with the DUP, welcoming the decision, “I am pleased that the DUP have agreed to accept the package of measures that the UK Government has put forward and as a result they are ready to return to the Northern Ireland Assembly and nominate representatives to the Northern Ireland Executive.”

Legislation was passed by the UK parliament today to implement the deal in order to restore power-sharing.