Northern Ireland’s first minister resigns

The Democratic Unionist Party’s Paul Givan quit over post-Brexit checks

The first minister of Northern Ireland, Paul Givan, on Thursday announced his resignation from the post, as the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) escalated their protest over elements of the Brexit deal that impact on the province’s relationship with the rest of the UK. 

The DUP objects to the Northern Ireland Protocol, created under the UK’s Withdrawal Agreement with the EU in an effort to prevent forming a hard border between the region and the Republic of Ireland. However, the Protocol effectively created a border down the Irish Sea by establishing checks on goods coming into Northern Ireland from Great Britain.

Due to the power-sharing agreement at Stormont – Northern Ireland’s seat of government – Givan’s departure forces the parallel resignation of Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill of Sinn Féin.

The move comes after DUP agriculture minister, Edwin Poots, on Wednesday ordered a surprise suspension on the Brexit checks concerning food and farm products arriving in Northern Ireland from Great Britain.

Rival parties have been quick to condemn Givan’s resignation, with the region’s finance minister, Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy, labeling it “reckless and self-serving.”

Northern Ireland is set to go to the polls for local elections in May.

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