Paul Givan rightly adopts a magnanimous tone as he assumes the first minister post

News Letter editorial of Wednesday June 9 2021:

Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 8:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 2:38 pm
News Letter editorial

Paul Givan yesterday was unveiled as first minister of Northern Ireland, and showed the magnanimity you would expect of a newly elevated leader.

The DUP MLA paid tribute to his forerunners, including Arlene Foster as “giants of unionism”.

The nomination of a first minister is an essential moment, one that begins to clarify the political direction of the DUP after the election of Edwin Poots to lead the party.

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Arlene Foster had said she would quit a DUP that promoted her rapidly after she defected to it, but it is to be hoped that the transition — after Mrs Foster hosts a British-Irish meeting in Fermanagh — will now be one with which both sides of the new party divide are happy. But whether or not the internal transition within the DUP is smooth is a matter of almost incidental significance.

The key question is how the DUP will respond to the Boris Johnson Irish Sea border betrayal.

If the party is playing tactics to get through the nomination process with Sinn Fein, then that is understandable, given Stormont procedures. If Mrs Foster attends a last meeting involving the Irish government, so be it. But beyond that the DUP should feel no obligation to give republicans assurances after they were allowed to shatter the spirit of power-sharing and bring down devolution until they got an Irish language act pledge.

Once again it has been left to Jim Allister to scrutinise and highlight some of the scandalous waste that will flow from the act, including a Stormont translator for Ulster Scots that no MLAs speak, that barely anyone in Northern Ireland speaks to a comprehensive level, and for which there was no demand within unionism. Ulster Scots was a fig leaf to give republicans their long-time sectarian Irish language goals.

And as for the Northern Ireland Protocol, London for all its trickery has once again been assuring the EU of its commitment to the deal to divide the UK, achieved by repeal of the Act of Union.

Most unionists will now expect Mr Poots and Mr Givan to make clear that they will entirely reject ‘modifications’ that merely disguise the constitutional outrage of the NI Protocol.

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