Taoiseach: Stability must be restored in North following Poots resignation

Taoiseach Micheál Martin called for calm on Friday in the wake of the news
Taoiseach: Stability must be restored in North following Poots resignation

The Taoiseach has said that stability must be restored in Northern Ireland following the resignation of DUP leader Edwin Poots.

Mr Poots’ resignation, tendered only three weeks after he was ratified in the role, came after an angry party revolt against his decision to nominate a First Minister on Thursday.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin called for calm on Friday in the wake of the news.

“It will now be a matter for the Democratic Unionist Party in terms of, you know, electing a new leader,” he said.

“And then once that happens, I think we need steady engagement. There’s a need to restore stability yes, and that’s an obligation on the political leaders.

“We will do everything we possibly can in a constructive way to facilitate a stable outcome here.”

Tumultuous reign

It comes after the Minister for Foreign Affairs said the “last thing” Northern Ireland needs is for its largest party to be divided. Simon Coveney said the DUP should be given “space” to respond to the challenges it is facing.

The DUP is looking for another new leader after Mr Poots announced his intention to quit after a brief but tumultuous reign in the party’s top job.

A party statement announcing his departure followed a heated three-hour crisis meeting of party officers in the DUP’s east Belfast headquarters on Thursday night.

The dramatic move came after the vast majority of DUP MLAs and MPs earlier voted against Mr Poots’ decision to proceed with reconstituting the Northern Executive, amid party anger at a UK Government pledge to grant Sinn Féin a key concession on Irish language laws.

The announcement by Mr Poots, who currently remains Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister, concluded a hugely turbulent 24 hours in Northern Ireland politics – a period in which power-sharing appeared to have dodged another crisis following the nomination of First and Deputy First Ministers in a special Assembly sitting, only for the administration to be plunged back into uncertainty hours later with Mr Poots’ departure.

First Minister future

Serious question marks now hang over the future of newly appointed First Minister Paul Givan, who was nominated alongside Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill on Thursday.

It is unlikely a new DUP leader would keep him in position and he could well choose to quit of his own accord before he is replaced.

An electoral college made up of DUP MLAs and MPs will decide who will lead the party next. It remains to be seen whether it will be a contested race.

Jeffrey Donaldson, who lost last month’s leadership contest by 19 votes to 17, will be seen as a clear favourite by many.

Mr Poots was voted in as Arlene Foster’s successor on May 14th, following a revolt against the former first minister instigated by supporters of Mr Poots.

—Additional reporting by Press Association.

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