As Northern Ireland prepares to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has been warned that if it does not return to power-sharing there must be a “new model of shared stewardship between the British and Irish governments.”
Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) leader Colum Eastwood told his party conference in Derry on Saturday that the DUP needs to “get back to work or get out of the way.”
Eastwood’s no holds barred attack on the DUP followed last week’s formal signing by the EU and the U.K. of the new Windsor Framework. A vital part of the framework, the Stormont brake, had earlier been overwhelmingly approved in the Westminster Parliament with only 22 hardline Brexiteer Tories supporting the DUP’s opposition to it.
The Windsor framework was designed by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the EU as the best deal for stability in Northern Ireland following post-Brexit controversies.
Eastwood said in Derry that the choice now “isn’t really about a protocol or a framework, it’s about whether the DUP are prepared to share power with their neighbors.”
He said the largest unionist party had “run out of excuses, they have run out of road and the public ran out of patience with them a long, long time ago.”
Northern Ireland has been without a fully functioning Assembly or Executive for more than a year since the DUP withdrew from the power-sharing institutions as part of its protest against a post-Brexit Protocol designed to ensure a soft trade border on the island of Ireland.
The DUP continues to boycott the power-sharing administration, insisting it is taking time to consider the details of the Windsor Framework, despite Westminster, the EU and the British government has given it approval.
Eastwood said, “If political parties will not work together, then there must be a new model of shared stewardship between the British and Irish governments.”
The 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement is on April 10, with President Joe Biden expected to mark events connected to it sometime in the following week.