Northern Ireland: Paul Givan takes over as first minister, but his party is in crisis
Dr Peter McLoughlin casts an eye over the last few turbulent days for the DUP.
Northern Ireland has a new first minister – its youngest ever. But as a mark of the strife and confusion which so often characterises Stormont politics, within hours of the confirmation of the Democratic Unionist Party’s (DUP) Paul Givan, 39, in the top job, the party had to deal with the resignation of its shortest serving leader, Edwin Poots, who lasted just 21 days. Outsiders may already be confused, as the two roles are currently separate. But the confirmation of the former triggered the departure of the latter.
More confusing still, Givan is a close ally of Poots. He had been widely tipped as the former DUP leader’s nomination for the first minister role. Poots had made a promise as part of his campaign for the DUP leadership that he would not be head of the Stormont executive.
This was to show his commitment to reforming the DUP, suggesting that he would forgo the limelight to concentrate on this and involve other party members in the overall leadership operation. The aim was to suggest a greater team effort, and more accountability in the DUP.
It was also an implicit rebuke of Arlene Foster’s leadership, presented as being more top down, and may have helped Poots narrowly defeat the rival candidate, Jeffery Donaldson, seen as representing the more “Fosterite” wing of the DUP.
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Article originally appeared in The Conversation.