Northern Ireland news

North South Ministerial Council meeting postponed indefinitely amid Stormont crisis

Former DUP leader Edwin Poots (right) during a press conference at Stormont with First Minister designate Paul Givan after announcing his first ministerial team

CANCELLATION of the North South Ministerial Council plenary meeting scheduled for today happened shortly before 11pm last night following a tumultuous day in Northern Ireland.

As a freshly-elected DUP leader, Edwin Poots had said earlier this month he would be leading its ministers to the meeting - despite being the agriculture rather than first minister.

It followed claims he had boycotted some recent meetings in protest against the Northern Ireland Protocol.

However, the meeting itself was thrown into doubt when first Sinn Féin and then the DUP looked as if they would balk at re-nominating first and deputy first ministers before the deadline.

The joint heads of government's presence is required for plenary sessions of the council.

After a last minute deal was reached, Paul Givan was nominated by the DUP and Sinn Féin returned Michelle O'Neill.

Ian Knox cartoon 18/6/21 

However, failure to consult DUP assembly members about the deal lead to an immediate revolt within the party which ended with Mr Poots being forced to resign as leader within hours of the nominations.

Although - for the time being - Mr Givan remains first minister, the confusion and instability within one of the senior parties of government led the executive to request the postponement of today's meeting.

With no leader, no clear timeframe for a new leader and no indication of whether the successor to Mr Poots will endorse the deal which torpedoed his leadership, it is unclear when the meeting will now take place - or even if the assembly will survive.

Read more: DUP hierarchy seeking swift process to replace Edwin Poots as leader

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