Former President Bill Clinton says he is optimistic Northern Ireland government will be revived soon

Streaming HUBApril 18, 2023

Former US President Bill Clinton said Tuesday he hoped one of Northern Ireland’s major political parties would soon end a boycott that has left the regional government in limbo for more than a year.

Clinton said she had met with Democratic Unionist Party leader Jeffrey Donaldson on Monday, and “left more optimistic than I entered that meeting.”

Clinton is in Belfast this week to mark 25 years of the Good Friday Agreement ending decades of sectarian bloodshed. The deal established a Northern Ireland government, with power shared between the British unionist and Irish nationalist parties.

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The DUP walked out a year ago to protest post-Brexit trade rules that imposed a customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, despite an agreement reached by the UK and EU in February to withdraw it. refused. Multiple border checks.

Clinton said the deal, known as the Windsor Framework, went a long way toward resolving the political impasse.

He told the BBC, “So I hope that in the near future, the obstacles to bringing the government back together will be removed.” “Because everybody knows that economically, socially and politically, they’re going to be worse off if they pack it in at the current level of disunity.”

Bill Clinton smiles as he attends an event marking the 25th anniversary of the Belfast Good Friday Agreement on April 17, 2023 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Bill Clinton smiles as he attends an event marking the 25th anniversary of the Belfast Good Friday Agreement on April 17, 2023 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Liam McBurney/PA via AP)

UK Secretary for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris also urged the DUP to return to government, saying that those who value Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom should “put union first, devolve institutions”. should be restored and work should be done for it.” The people of Northern Ireland.”

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“The biggest threat to Northern Ireland’s place in the union is failing to deliver on these priorities,” he told a Good Friday Agreement commemoration conference in Belfast.

The political impasse has left Northern Ireland’s civil servants running a skeleton caretaker government, with no politicians to make major decisions amid a crisis of survival and a creaking public health service.

Other parties in the Northern Ireland Assembly have expressed dismay, but Donaldson said on Tuesday his party would not be “intimidated into surrender”.

“The great and good can lecture us all for a cheap round of applause, but it won’t change the political reality,” he wrote on Twitter.

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Doug Beattie, leader of the small Ulster Unionist Party, warned that putting too much pressure on the DUP would be counterproductive.

“If you try and beat people… they just go to their trenches and they dig in,” he told reporters.

But Beattie said he was confident the government would be restored.

“I have no doubt that the DUP is going to go back to executive,” he said. “I’d put money on it. I’d sell my house on it. I’m telling you, they’re going to go back. But when is all that.”

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