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Northern Ireland on the eve of a political earthquake?

With the approach of the local legislative elections, which will be held on 5th May next, Sinn Féin and the DUP [Parti unioniste démocrate] agree on at least one point. There hasn’t been such a big poll in decades, said Sinn Féin vice-president Michelle O’Neill at the party’s official campaign launch in Belfast [le 30 mars]. An opinion shared by Jeffrey Donaldson, the leader of the DUP: “This is the most important election in recent years, and it will determine the direction of Northern Ireland for those to come”he said from a platform set up in the back of a truck, during a demonstration against Northern Irish protocol in County Antrim [voir encadré].

The most cynical will say that in Northern Ireland most polls are presented this way. But this time, it’s undeniable, the stakes are high. This election could mark a turning point in the region’s history.

If the pollsters were right, Sinn Féin [ancienne branche politique de l’IRA] is about to win a majority in Stormont, the local Assembly, which would allow him to take the helm of the devolved government, a first for a nationalist party [voir glossaire] in Northern Ireland. “It’s the first time that Sinn Féin have had a real chance of finishing on the top step of the podium, and the Unionists are starting to tremble”analyzes Jon Tonge, who teaches politics at the University of Liverpool.

Parade in London and Brussels

Of course, Sinn Féin will have to live with its adversaries, of course, a nationalist prime minister cannot govern without a unionist deputy prime minister – and vice versa – but no matter. The symbolic significance of such a victory would be enough to shake the foundations of an already tottering unionist movement, while giving a powerful boost to the ambitions of Sinn Féin, which could thus hope to take the helm of the government on both sides. across the border and eventually reunite the island. Jeffrey Donaldson therefore warns his voters: if Sinn Féin were to take the head of government in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland as the polls suggest [dans le sud de l’île, le parti nationaliste est actuellement le plus populaire]then “Michelle O’Neill and Mary Lou McDonald [la présidente du parti] will crisscross London, Brussels and Washington to try to impose their radical program turned towards reunification”.

“Jeffrey Donaldson made it clear to voters that to avoid a reunification referendum they needed to block Sinn Féin, summarizes Jon Tonge. Much is at stake for Northern Irish protocol and for the region’s constitutional future.”

In the current state of things, it even seems unlikely that an assembly will be formed after the election. Donaldson has made it clear that his party will not return to the executive until the outstanding aspects of Northern Ireland protocol have been ironed out. He also repeatedly refused to confirm that the DUP

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Source of the article

The Irish Times (Dublin)

Founded by Protestants in 1859, today under the authority of a group of “trustees” responsible for guaranteeing its political and religious independence, The Irish Times relies on an extensive network of correspondents abroad and prestigious signatures. Succession is ensured by an annual Douglas Gageby scholarship, named after the former editor of the daily.

Prizes won by journalists from The Irish Times regularly confirm its status as a reference daily. And while keeping a great sobriety, it enjoys a wide readership, especially for its Saturday edition.

The site, launched in 1994 for the Irish diaspora, had a facelift in June 2008. Rather elegant, it leaves all the articles of the day freely accessible and offers several editorial blogs. The archives, which reproduce facsimiles of the newspaper from 1859 to 1996, are chargeable. The archives of the website since 1996 are available in the paid subscription.

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