Northern Ireland: government crisis?

The leader of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Jeffrey Donaldson, resigned on Good Friday after charges of "historic" sex offences were brought against him. The unionist DUP gave up its blockade against cooperation with the republican Sinn Féin just two months ago, and observers fear a government crisis.

BBC (GB) /

Belfast shaken

The resignation has plunged the DUP and the power-sharing government into an unexpected political crisis, the BBC comments:

“It takes something to shake Northern Ireland’s battle hardened political landscape — but this has. ... Sir Jeffrey was at the peak of his powers. He steered his party back into Stormont in the face of opposition of many of his own MPs and peers. But now his political career appears to be over and his party has been left in disarray. ... The hope will be by the time MLAs return from the Easter break, there will be little time to reflect on the political earthquake.”

Enda McClafferty
The Irish Times (IE) /

Political aftershocks inevitable

The Irish Times is also concerned that the power-sharing government is in danger:

“The DUP and Sinn Féin have both denied that the stability of the North’s institutions has been put at risk. But it is difficult to see how such a cataclysmic event would not lead to political aftershocks. Donaldson leaves behind a party that remains deeply divided. Opposition to his decision to return to the Executive still runs deep among many party members. They believe the concessions he claimed to have secured to arrangements for the movement of goods between the North and Great Britain do not go nearly far enough. At some point they will surely seek an opportunity to strike.”