26 December 2022

In Pictures: Stormont still suspended as Northern Ireland sees year of changes

26 December 2022

Northern Ireland remains politically deadlocked in a year of change, with no executive formed at Stormont and Michelle O’Neill still unable to take the office of first minister after her Sinn Fein party finished first in May elections.

Loyalist opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol has prevented the formation of a new administration, with Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris expected to formalise a new election next year.

Ms O’Neill, whose party is the first pro-Irish unity to win a poll north of the border since partition, offered condolences to the King following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, while Northern Ireland also lost other significant figures including Nobel laureate David Trimble and Baroness May Blood.

A more normal life was beckoning for Northern Ireland with Robin Swann having lifted Covid restrictions but May elections brought a political breakthrough with Ms O’Neill set to become first minister after her party’s win.

However, that scenario was prevented by the lack of co-operation from the DUP over its opposition to Brexit trading arrangements.

Lord Trimble’s death marked the passing of an era as he was remembered for his role in forging peace but the death of Queen Elizabeth II saw the late monarch receive tributes from Sinn Fein figures who are implacably opposed to the UK monarchy.

The end of the late Queen’s reign was marked by civility from even those parts of the community opposed to the British presence in Northern Ireland.

Getting the political institutions up and running again will be the challenge for 2023 at a time where support for Sinn Fein is at an all-time high and as the UK moves on from a historic reign that began long before the Troubles.

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