Published: Tue, March 07, 2017
Life&Culture | By Kristin Armstrong

Northern Ireland's two big gangs go on shouting

Jon Tonge, professor of politics at the University of Liverpool and an expert on Northern Ireland's unionist politics, says Arlene Foster, the embattled DUP leader, made a strategic mistake by aligning the party with the Eurosceptic wing of the Conservatives in Westminster.

If they can not, ministers in Westminster will have to decide whether to call yet another election or suspend devolution altogether.

CNN notes that under the 1998 Good Friday peace accord, which ended three decades of sectarian violence in the region, Northern Ireland's government "must be run jointly by unionist and nationalist parties".

The DUP emerged with 28 seats despite suffering a backlash over allegations of financial mismanagement, while Sinn Fein got 27 of 90 seats available at the Stormont Assembly, becoming once more the second-largest party.

The DUP has insisted Sinn Fein can not dictate who they nominate to lead the party in any restored Stormont Executive.

Mr Eastwood said: "This is a very important election".

The botched heating scheme and post-Brexit border arrangements with the Republic of Ireland were the main focus of a televised final debate this week between party leaders. Sinn Fein is expected to return as the largest Irish nationalist party.

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But the vote also showed the political shift under way in the province itself, with Unionist sentiment no longer able to carry the day at the ballot box.

"I hope that numbers turn out, big numbers and that the result will be clear there can be an assembly and an executive put together", he said of the election.

Northern Ireland minister James Brokenshire said that British troops must not be "unfairly treated" in any investigation into the deaths.

When Foster's Sinn Fein deputy withdrew from the local administration, the U.K.'s Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire was forced to announce a March 2 election. And numerous old sectarian divisions are looking anachronistic; the Alliance, which draws support from both communities, had its best result since the return of home rule in 1998.

Following Northern Ireland's Assembly election last week, political parties will hold talks at Stormont today to explore if a power-sharing government can be formed.

Another election will be called if a government cannot be formed within that time, and if no power-share agreement is made that power could return to the United Kingdom government for the first time in a decade.

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