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Northern Ireland

Mike McCartney

2nd May 2022

Is the province going to be the real story in this week's elections?

There is an excellent article in this week's Observer by Professor of Politics from the University of Manchester, Dr Robert Ford, previewing the various polls on Thursday.

It covers the significance of the English locals for the current PM, but at the end it draws attention to the fact that in plain sight is a far more politically charged election: Northern Ireland.

Dr Ford writes:

"While there is much for the governing parties to watch in this wave of local contests, the most politically consequential elections will be in Northern Ireland, where voters will elect members for a new devolved assembly. Polling points to a seismic shift, with Sinn Féin overtaking its unionist rivals to become the largest party in the assembly for the first time. With the DUP leadership currently refusing to commit to serving under a Sinn Féin first minister, and a long-running dispute over the post-Brexit Northern Ireland protocol still unresolved, storm clouds are gathering over the province once again.

Whatever this week’s local elections may signal for the future, a new Northern Ireland crisis could swiftly shift political attention back to the unhealed wounds of the past."

The full article is here:

So, don't forget, NI is part of the constitutional settlement of the early Tony Blair era. Many historians will be charged with answering the question of what Blair's legacy was. It could be Iraq. It could be laying a smoother pathway to independence for Scotland. It could be peace in Northern Ireland. Time will tell.

Background to the constitutional status of Stormont here:

Mike McCartney

Mike is an experienced A-Level Politics teacher, author and examiner.

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