“No Sinn Féin Shopping List” to facilitate the appointment of the next Prime Minister

SINN FÉIN HAS said it would have no “demands” to facilitate the appointment of a new first minister, other than to abide by agreements already reached.

South Down MP Chris Hazard said there was no “Sinn Fein shopping list” for new DUP concessions.

DUP officers have set a date for June 26 to elect a new leader, with newly appointed Prime Minister Paul Gevan told that he is expected to step down as part of the transition period.
The appointment of a new first minister from Sinn Féin would require the re-nomination of Michelle O’Neill as Deputy Prime Minister in order to keep and run Stormont.

Anger over the UK government’s pledge to give Sinn Féin a major concession on Irish language laws led Edwin Potts to resign as the DUP leader after just three weeks, but Mr Hazzard says his party will have no further demands.

He said, “We will have no demands but that people be faithful to the commitments and agreements that have been made.

“So, 15 months ago, we all prepared for the transfer of power on the understanding that the commitments made at St Andrews 15 years ago, would finally be fulfilled in the legislation.

“This is where all the DUP bans are in, it’s not just Sinn Féin who says this. This is where I definitely think the vast majority of people in the audience are.

“There is no shopping list and certainly no shopping list from Sinn Féin.”

Hazard denied Sinn Féin was responsible for the recent Stormont crisis, by bypassing the DUP and calling on Westminster to legislate for the Irish language.

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He said DUP had “fallen into a dead end of their own making”.

He told BBC One’s Sunday Politics Northern Ireland: “When people look at what’s happening in the DUP, if it wasn’t that serious, it would be comical.

“There is no doubt that DUP has gotten itself into a self-made dilemma in recent years.

I think they were unwilling and unable to fulfill people’s rights.

“Despite all the outcry about Protocol and Brexit, we have to remember that it was gay conversion therapy that brought down Arlene Foster, and it was the introduction of Irish language rights that brought down Edwin Potts. This is a really unfortunate case.”

Edwin Potts is leaving the DUP’s Belfast headquarters after saying he will step down as party leader, Thursday.

Source: PA

The frontrunner to lead the Democratic Federalist Party is Lagan Valley Representative Jeffrey Donaldson.

His future may be known as early as Tuesday, the deadline for nominations in the leadership contest, if he is chosen unopposed.

The DUP yearns for stability after two turbulent months that saw former leader Arlene Foster resign after an internal struggle against her, and Potts followed suit, also weakened by a party insurgency.

His resignation Thursday night came after just three weeks in the job.

He was motivated by his decision to go ahead with the reconfiguration of the Stormont Executive alongside Sinn Féin, although the vast majority of his deputies and MLAs strongly opposed the move.

Donaldson narrowly lost to Potts in the DUP leadership contest last month to replace Foster.

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Because of that agonizing campaign, the party hierarchy favors the unchallenged appointment this time around, though it remains to be seen if Donaldson, if he runs, will face any challengers.

That will soon become clear, after DUP officers have set a deadline of 12 noon on Tuesday for nominations to be submitted in the leadership contest.

There will be a meeting next week, on June 26, where the next DUP leader will be chosen.

Speaking yesterday, party chairman Lord Morrow said: “Following a meeting of party officials in Belfast today, the following decisions have been taken.

Party officers set June 26 as the date for a meeting to elect a new leader.

“According to the DUP constitution and rules, only party members, who are also members of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the House of Commons, are entitled to vote for Leader or Deputy Leader. Details have been communicated to all eligible voters.”

During the latter campaign, Donaldson pledged to resign his position as Member of Parliament in Westminster to return to the Assembly and take up the position of First Minister.

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If that happens, that would mean a Westminster by-election in the Lagan Valley, a seat Donaldson has held since 1997.

One possibility is that he could seek to replace Foster as MLA for Fermanagh and South Tyrone when she steps down.

However, with the PYD currently in such turmoil, there are doubts as to whether the party will voluntarily wish to hold a by-election in the Lagan Valley any time soon.

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Another option is to wait for Donaldson even before the next assembly elections, scheduled for May 2022, before he resigns his parliamentary seat.

In this scenario, he might appoint an interim first minister to temporarily fill this role.

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