The First Minister of Northern Ireland Paul Givan has announced his intention to resign in protest of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

His decision means that  Sinn Féin’s Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill will also lose her position in Stormont.

This morning it was reportedly unclear whether checks on goods along the Irish Sea Border had been stopped, following an order from Northern Ireland’s agriculture minister.

It was then confirmed that Belfast Port’s facilities are at least partly in operation. 

Democratic Unionist Party politician Edwin Poots’ order, which he says is justified by legal advice, follows the long-standing opposition the post-Brexit deal has faced from the DUP and other unionist groups.

The Protocol was implemented to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in the wake of Brexit by keeping Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods.

This means goods imported from Great Britain to Northern Ireland require inspections to ensure compliance with EU law, which unionist groups argue contravenes the region’s relationship with the rest of the UK.

The DUP’s power-sharing partners, Irish republican party Sinn Féin, have criticised Poots’ move as a “stunt”, while Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney has warned the DUP that such a move would breach international law.

Democratic Unionist Party

The UK government has refused involvement and have said the issue remains a “matter for the Northern Ireland Executive”.

The UK’s foreign secretary Liz Truss held talks with EU Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič on the Protocol this afternoon.

 

A 2021 poll conducted in Northern Ireland found that 42.3% of voters favoured a United Ireland compared to 46.8% of voters who were against. 10.7% were undecided.