Edwin Poots’s brief tenure as DUP leader has come to an abrupt and somewhat farcical end. The nature of his rapid rise and fall, however, underlines the deep instability, not just in his party, but in the ‘peace process’ as a whole.
Paul Givan and Michelle O’Neill have been nominated as First and Deputy First Minister, following the British government’s commitment to introduce Irish language legislation over the heads of the Stormont politicians, and despite the opposition of a large majority of DUP MLAs in an internal vote.
While the institutions may stumble on for now, however, this crisis is not over. These events - and the deep divisions within the DUP - reflect the reality that the ‘peace process’ has entered a new and turbulent phase.
The Socialist Party welcomes the announcement from the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) that all charges related to last summer's Black Lives Matter protests in Belfast and Derry are to be dropped. The PPS recognised that the events were organised in a responsible manner, aimed at minimising the risk of Covid, and that they related to a matter of "important social concern". All fines against those who took part in these protests - and a similar protest against gender violence in Belfast, organised by ROSA in the wake of Sarah Everard's killing - must be immediately rescinded and reimbursed.
Against the backdrop of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the consequent social and economic hardships that have been inflicted on ordinary people as a result, the Stormont draft budget comes as a slap in the face, particularly to the frontline workers who have kept society functioning over the last year.
Environment Minister Edwin Poots has called for a “balanced approach to tackling climate change” - that is, balancing the future of our planet against the interests of big business.
Following a dramatic surge in Covid infections and hospitalisations, the Northern Ireland Executive has introduced a raft of new restrictions. The most significant of these are the extension of the half-term break in schools to two weeks and the closure of cafes, bars and restaurants - except for takeaway and delivery - for a month. This raises the threat of further large-scale redundancies in the sector, unless there is an immediate emergency intervention.
In Stormont, Sinn Féin, the DUP and other Executive parties united to vote through significant parts of the Tory immigration bill through the Assembly via a Legislative Consent Motion. Minister for Communities Carál Ní Chuilín was responsible for moving this attack on immigrant workers.