Northern Irish party leader charged with rape: ‘This could lead to a political shift in both Irelands’

Northern Irish party leader charged with rape: ‘This could lead to a political shift in both Irelands’
Northern Irish party leader charged with rape: ‘This could lead to a political shift in both Irelands’

What’s going on?

“There is political turmoil on both sides of the border. Ireland will soon have a new prime minister, and in Northern Ireland the leader of the DUP, the largest pro-English party, has just fallen. This politician, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, who has also been in the British Parliament since the last century, has even been arrested, and so has his wife. He is suspected of non-recent sexual offenses, including rape, and his wife is said to have been an accomplice. The police have not disclosed anything about the precise nature of the allegations.”

How important is this Donaldson?

“He is a big man in Northern Irish politics. This year he played a leading role in restarting the Northern Ireland parliament, which had been at a standstill for three years. He is considered a moderate man. You can do business with him. With the British as a kind of referee, he has brokered an agreement with Sinn Fein to govern Northern Ireland together again. Sinn Fein is the pro-Irish counterpart and former enemy of the DUP. Sinn Fein now provides the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, with the DUP effectively playing second fiddle. Donaldson is blamed for this by critics within his party: they believe he has conceded too much to Sinn Fein.

“The big question now is who will succeed him? If that becomes someone from the more radical wing, it could have major consequences for the direction of the party and for political cooperation in the Northern Irish government.”

What role did Donaldson play during the Brexit negotiations?

“Donaldson was strongly pro-Brexit. Despite this, EU rules still apply to Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland has become the new external border of the EU: the border with EU member state Ireland is open, while the border with the United Kingdom – of which Northern Ireland is a part – has in fact become the EU border. Northern Ireland therefore has one foot in the EU and one foot in the UK. This has made Brexit very complicated for the British: due to the complicated position of Northern Ireland, which wants to keep its border with the rest of Ireland open, the British cannot achieve a pure Brexit.

“Donaldson’s DUP is split over Brexit, but so is the British government: Rishi Sunak is on the Donaldson line, but ex-prime ministers Boris Johnson and Liz Truss want an absolute break with the EU. In six months’ time this may no longer be an issue: the Tories will lose the elections and Labor will take power. Until then, perhaps England can stall for time.”

But what does all this mean for this other Ireland?

“Prime Minister Leo Varadkar (45) recently unexpectedly resigned as Prime Minister and as leader of the Fine Gail party. The young Simon Harris (37) will succeed him in both positions. He is very pro-EU, as is Varadkar, who cited keeping the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland open as one of his key achievements. This border is therefore also very important for Ireland. Donaldson’s arrest and Varadkar’s almost simultaneous resignation could also lead to a shift in political relations in Ireland.

“You also see a certain right-wing movement in Ireland. Especially outside the capital Dublin, criticism of the government and the course it is taking in areas such as immigration is growing. According to the critics, the government is too liberal and much too Dublin-oriented. Independent parliamentarians from the west of the country have founded a new party, Independent Ireland, to respond to this. That is a development to keep an eye on.”

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Northern Irish party leader charged rape lead political shift Irelands


PREV With a fund of 100 billion euros, Ukraine should even survive a second time with Trump
NEXT Large cloud of Sahara dust expected by Spanish plume: “It is better not to wash your car this weekend” | Science & Planet