Ministers accuse DUP of ‘obstructing’ north-south relations

Stormont
Support us and go ad-free

The DUP has been accused of “obstructing” north-south institutions.

Sinn Féin and the SDLP say the DUP failed to nominate a unionist minister to attend two North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) sectoral meetings in recent weeks which prevented them from going ahead.

One accompanying minister from the opposing political view must attend NSMC meetings to allow them to proceed.

‘Obstruction’

On 16 April, infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon (SDLP) said an NSMC transport meeting could not go ahead due to no unionist minister having been nominated.

DUP leader Arlene Foster later claimed the meeting did not happen due to a timing issue and insisted it would take place in the future.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Sinn Féin communities minister Deirdre Hargey said an NSMC languages meeting was cancelled on 31 March because a unionist minister was not in attendance. The PA news agency understands that Hargey wrote to the Stormont Executive earlier this week to express her disappointment at the situation.

Ministers discussed the matter under the any other business section of the Executive meeting on 15 April.

It’s understood that deputy first minister Michelle O’Neill has asked the head of the civil service to ascertain if all ministers are continuing to participate in north-south ministerial structures. The next scheduled NSMC sectoral meeting is set to take place on 28 April and will concern agriculture.

The current Stormont agriculture minister is Edwin Poots of the DUP.

Language

Hargey said important decisions on languages had been due to take place. She said:

I raised the failure of a DUP minister to attend the languages meeting at yesterday’s Executive meeting. I made it clear that this was unacceptable.

Properly functioning north-south structures are critical to the successful operation of the Good Friday Agreement framework.

Unionist ministers do not get to cherry-pick which meetings or structures they want to participate in, it’s an obligation and must be fulfilled.

Mallon accused Foster of having “failed to fulfil her ministerial requirement” by not nominating a unionist minister to attend the latest meeting on 16 April. She said:

Today the DUP have once again blocked the proceeding of an important north-south ministerial meeting.

Irish Government Minister Eamon Ryan and I were waiting to join our meeting, which was blocked from proceeding because no accompanying unionist minister would make themselves available.

The Executive

The Executive is made up of five DUP ministers, four Sinn Féin ministers, and one each from the UUP, SDLP and Alliance party.

In February, the DUP warned that north-south relationships will be “impacted” by their opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol governing post-Brexit arrangements. The party also pledged to oppose all protocol-related measures in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Foster said the 16 April meeting did not happen due to an issue with dates and said it would take place in the future.

She told the BBC:

We’ve made our position very clear in relation to the Protocol and the fact that we believe the Protocol needs to be dealt with so that there is balance in the Belfast Agreement.

But the date of today wasn’t something that we could meet with and, as you know, all of these meetings take place in agreement, and the agenda wasn’t agreed, nothing was agreed for the meeting today between the different parties. So it’s something that will happen, it will happen in the future.

Featured Image – Pixabay – veve

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us