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Northern Ireland: Resignation of First Minister

Volume 708: debated on Friday 4 February 2022

I wish to inform the House that Paul Givan has resigned as the First Minister of the Northern Ireland Executive. This decision is extremely disappointing and I want to make it clear that the Government want to see a return to ministerial roles immediately, to ensure the necessary delivery of public services for the citizens of Northern Ireland.

The Government’s priority is for a strong, functioning Executive delivering a better, more prosperous, shared future for the people of Northern Ireland. We want to continue to build on the Belfast (Good Friday) agreement’s promise of a stable, co-operative power-sharing Executive, built on respectful relationships with a shared commitment to serve all the people of Northern Ireland.

The last two years since the New Decade, New Approach agreement restored devolved Government in Northern Ireland have demonstrated the potential that can be unlocked when the political parties in Northern Ireland work together. We must not return to a state of political deadlock and inertia.

The Government recognise the impact that the Ireland/Northern Ireland protocol is having on the ground, and we have been clear for some time that the protocol has been causing a serious unbalancing of the delicate and hard-won political stability in Northern Ireland. We remain fully committed to fixing the problems with the protocol and to protecting the Belfast (Good Friday) agreement in all its dimensions.

I have spoken to Northern Ireland party leaders and the Irish Government, to encourage a return to stable devolved Government in Northern Ireland. The Government hope that Northern Ireland's political leaders will quickly take the necessary steps to restore the stability in the devolved institutions that the people of Northern Ireland deserve. In addition, the Northern Ireland (Ministers, Elections and Petition of Concern) Bill currently before Parliament will aid and underpin stability.