HOW HAVE WE GOT TO THIS POINT?
This started with a murder. The murder of Kevin McGuigan Senior, who was known to be in the IRA. What makes this political is that the PSNI have implicated members of the Provisional IRA in the murder. This organisation is supposed to not exist except in the footnotes in History. The allegations that it not only exists but was involved in a murder has become intensely political through the actions of firstly the UUP
WHAT DID THE UUP DO?
The Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt took the huge step of taking his Party out of the NI Executive in protest. Despite only having 1 Minister, this has created a political crisis for a number of reasons:
- It puts the UUP into opposition
- It means the Executive now consists of 4 Parties. They are seeking mechanisms to elect a fair replacement to Danny Kennedy from the UUP
- It has left the DUP on the back foot. They have reacted by pulling out of Executive business and threatening to bring down the whole Assembly unless the Assembly is temporarily suspended.
- Sinn Fein have warned the British Government not to suspend the Assembly
- Last minute talks are taking place to desperately avoid suspension
WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT?
The DUP and UUP have left themselves backed into a corner in a way. It is not clear what exactly they want in order to avert a closure of the Assembly. Do they want something off SF? Sinn Fein have little to give. It is very unclear how to end the impasse
WHAT IF DIRECT RULE RETURNED?
This would have a number of serious implications potentially
- Peoples faith in the NI Assembly will be dealt another crucial blow.
- Sinn Fein may rethink its northern strategy
- The DUP and UUP from being allies in recent elections have started to seriously fight over the same territory
- Direct Rule may see the introduction of a raft of important legislation that has proved impossible under the Assembly - Welfare Reform (Rejected by SF) Gay Marriage legislation (opposed by DUP) Possible Water charges -(opposed by all parties in NI)
It is difficult to see where the next steps will take us