His appointment rekindles the hope of a way out of the political crisis. Member of the British Parliament Jeffrey Donaldson was appointed on Tuesday 22 June at the head of the DUP, the main Unionist party in Northern Ireland. Mr Donaldson was the only declared candidate, amid a political crisis exacerbated by Brexit tensions.
“I want to bring stability”, announced in a statement Mr. Donaldson, considered as a moderate compared to his predecessor, Edwin Poots, remained only three weeks at the head of the ultraconservative party, which for the record appoints the Prime Minister of the British province.
Meeting with Boris Johnson
With the Northern Irish nation in the throes of serious turmoil, Mr Donaldson immediately called on the UK government and the European Union to “Intensify their efforts” and to “Recognize faults” of the protocol negotiated as part of Brexit. A protocol hated by unionists, insofar as it established, since the 1is January, a special customs status in Ulster.
Unlike his predecessors, however, Donaldson did not call for the outright elimination of these provisions, which provide for new restrictions on meat supplies from 1is July, which gave rise to a “sausage war” between London and Brussels.
“The government and those who claim to protect peace and stability must act and deal with the protocol in a manner which respects the constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom”said Donaldson, who intends to meet with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, ” as soon as possible “.
Mr Donaldson, 58, had previously indicated that, if chosen to lead this party (unionist and ultra-conservative), he would relinquish his post as MP in Westminster and become head of government for Northern Ireland. Edwin Poots, a Protestant fundamentalist who supports a hard unionist line, announced his resignation last week, after holding his post for only three weeks.
Mr Poots had been the victim of an internal sling, of the same type as that which had targeted his predecessor, Arlene Foster, accused of having allowed the establishment of customs controls for the supply of goods coming from Great Britain, from across the Irish Sea. In other words: to have allowed the erection of a border within the United Kingdom.
The context is tense in this nation (one of the four that make up the United Kingdom) of 1.9 million people. Unionists are furious because of the Northern Irish protocol negotiated as part of Brexit, which they believe calls into question the place of Ulster within the United Kingdom as well as the fluidity of trade.
This agreement, which aims to avoid the return of a physical border with the Republic of Ireland, keeps Northern Ireland in the single European market, and within the customs union for the goods that goes with it. Anger against this text had helped trigger violent riots in early April, across the country. Violence which could resurface on the occasion of the marches traditionally organized in July by the Orange unionists.