Northern Ireland First Minister Paul Givan Steps Down

© AP Photo / Peter MorrisonDemocratic Unionist Party MLA Paul Givan looks at members of the media following a meeting with DUP party colleagues at Stormont, Belfast, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, June 1, 2021.
Democratic Unionist Party MLA Paul Givan looks at members of the media following a meeting with DUP party colleagues at Stormont, Belfast, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, June 1, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.02.2022
The official announced his resignation less than a day after senior Democratic Unionist Party leader and Northern Ireland minister of agriculture Edwin Poots announced that checks on food products at Northern Ireland ports would be scrapped, sparking consternation from both London and Brussels.
First Minister of Northern Ireland Paul Givan resigned from his post on Thursday, publishing a letter of resignation on Twitter.
"It has been the privilege of my lifetime to serve as First Minister of Northern Ireland...Holding this office is one that comes with a heavy responsibility and I have often felt the weight of this burden, to do what is right for all our people," Givan, who took up the job in June 2021, wrote.

Characterizing himself as a "committed devolutionist," Givan expressed concerns that Northern Ireland's institutions were "being tested once again" and that "the delicate balance created by the Belfast and St. Andrews Agreements has been impacted by the agreement made by the United Kingdom Government and the European Union which created the Northern Ireland Protocol."

"The consent principle is a cornerstone of the Belfast Agreement and it is my earnest desire that all sections of the community will soon be able to give that consent to the restoration of a fully functioning Executive through a resolution to the issues that have regrettably brought us to this point," Givan wrote.
In accordance with Northern Ireland's power-sharing arrangements, Givan's deputy, Michelle O'Neill of Sinn Fein, also has to step down. Sinn Fein, the nationalist political force that supports the eventual reunification of Ireland, had called for early elections to the Stormont – Northern Ireland's parliament, ahead of Givan's departure.
Givan's Democratic Unionist Party has protested the Northern Ireland Protocol – the Brexit-affiliated agreement applicable to Northern Ireland designed to prevent a hard border from being set up between the British territory and the Republic of Ireland, for months on end.
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On Wednesday, Northern Ireland minister of agriculture Edwin Poots ordered officials to halt checks on food products starting midnight after months of wrangling by the Democratic Unionist Party against checks on goods travelling back and forth across the Irish Sea.
London has assured reporters that checks will continue and that they would remain in place amid talks with Brussels.
The European Commission has expressed concerns about "uncertainty and unpredictability" being created by disagreements on the protocol, calling Poots' orders a "breach of international law." At the same time, Brussels maintains that it was "working tirelessly" with London "to address practical challenges related to the implementation of the protocol."
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The Democratic Unionist Party has faced pressure from constituents amid the unpopularity of the port checks on food and farm products, with Sinn Fein and the Ulster Unionist Party (a rival of DUP's) threatening to expand their support in elections set for May. Observers say Givan's resignation and Poots' orders on the border checks may be a bid by the party to retain a measure of support among the public.
Givan's resignation is expected to weaken the Stormont's decision-making authority, putting on hold plans to approve a new three-year budget.
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