Edwin poots03

Givan Nominated As New North First Minister

Taoiseach Micheál Martin meeting with DUP Leader Edwin Poots and Paul Givan (on left) Democratic at Government Buildings in Dublin on June 3 Photo: RollingNews.ie/Julien Behal.


By Irish Echo Staff

The Democratic Unionist Party's Paul Given has been nominated as the North's new First Minister.

Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill is set to return as Deputy First Minister after an agreement was reached to introduce an Irish Language Act later in the year.

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However, much disagreement still prevails, not least in DUP ranks.

RTE was reporting that the DUP "appears to be in internal disarray" after a significant majority of its elected representatives opposed the new party leader's decision to nominate Givan as Stormont First Minister.

"A sizeable majority of MLAs and MPs voted against Edwin Poots' decision to reconstitute the power-sharing Executive with Sinn Féin in an internal meeting just minutes before the process for nominating Stormont's leaders began downstairs in the chamber of the Northern Ireland Assembly."

Added the RTE report: The new DUP leader, who succeeded the ousted Arlene Foster last month, is now facing questions about his own leadership future after he proceeded with the nomination despite the internal opposition.

"One senior party source at the meeting, which happened in the members' dining room, described the atmosphere: 'Dreadful. Utterly dreadful. Never experienced the like of it.'

"This morning, several DUP MPs and peers sent an urgent email to Mr. Poots urging him to hold off nominating Mr Givan until he explained his decision to reassemble the Executive after Sinn Féin secured its key ask on Irish language laws.

"A post-midnight announcement by the UK government committing to pass the stalled laws at Westminster in the autumn, if they are not moved at the Stormont Assembly in the interim, was enough to convince Sinn Féin to drop its threat not to nominate a deputy First Minister as joint head of the devolved Executive.

"The development came after a night of intensive talks involving Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis and DUP and Sinn Féin delegations in Belfast.

"The stand-off between the Executive's two main parties over the thorny language issue has been threatening the future of the fragile institutions in Belfast."

After accepting her nomination during today's Assembly sitting, Ms. O'Neill said: "We have monumental challenges ahead which require the same unity of purpose, the same urgency as we tackle the totally unacceptable hospital waiting lists which have left people crucified in pain and without hope.

"We must immediately set about addressing this issue together. We must mount a case to secure the funding from the British government to rebuild and transform our incredible public health service. Our people, and the heroic health service workers we are blessed with, deserve nothing less. Nothing less."

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney welcomed the nomination of the Givan and O'Neill.

He said: "I welcome the agreement that nominations to the positions of First Minister and deputy First Minister are to take place today which will allow the Northern Ireland Executive to continue its essential work on behalf of the people of Northern Ireland to the end of its mandate next year.

"The package of language and identity legislation agreed in New Decade New Approach was detailed and balanced and should be implemented – as should all the commitments in NDNA. This would be better done in the Assembly as agreed last year, but it is welcome that the Secretary of State has given an assurance these positive measures agreed in support of linguistic diversity and cultural expression in Northern Ireland are now to be put in place through legislation in Westminster if necessary.

"We look forward to working with the First and deputy First Minister, and all the parties in the Northern Ireland Executive, to the mutual benefit of people North and South, including at the next plenary meeting of the North South Ministerial Council which is planned for Friday in Armagh."