DUP party officers move to conclude swift election of new leader

Paul Givan told he will be expected to resign as First Minister

First Minister Paul Givan has been told he will be expected to resign as part of the DUP leadership transition. Photograph:  Brian Lawless/PA Wire

First Minister Paul Givan has been told he will be expected to resign as part of the DUP leadership transition. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

 

Newly appointed Stormont First Minister Paul Givan has been told he will be expected to resign as part of the DUP leadership transition.

DUP party officers have set a date of June 26th to elect a new leader. The nomination process has now opened, and will remain so until noon on June 22nd.

Party chairman Lord Morrow said: “Following a meeting of the party officers in Belfast today the following decisions were taken.

“The party officers have set the date of June 26th as the date for a meeting to elect a new leader.

“In accordance with the constitution and rules of the Democratic Unionist Party only party members, who are also members of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the House of Commons are entitled to vote for the leader or deputy leader. Details have been sent to all eligible voters.”

Party officers do not want to see Mr Givan leave his post as joint head of the devolved executive before the next leader is in place and ready to appoint a successor.

A departure prior to that would add further instability to the already fragile powersharing institutions, as it would set the clock ticking on a seven-day deadline to nominate both a new First Minister and renominate Michelle O’Neill as Sinn Féin’s deputy First Minister.

If that deadline is missed, the UK government would be under a legal obligation to call a snap election at the Assembly.

The current frontrunner for the DUP leadership is Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson.

It is understood party officers have had a number of discussions with Mr Givan about his future in the wake of Thursday night’s resignation of party leader Edwin Poots, who is his long-time friend and constituency colleague.

His resignation on Thursday night came after just three weeks in the post.

It was prompted by his decision to press ahead with reconstituting the Stormont Executive alongside Sinn Féin, despite a significant majority of his MPs and MLAs being opposed to the move.

Anger at a UK government pledge to grant Sinn Féin a key concession on Irish language laws was behind the internal opposition to Mr Poots’ decision to nominate a First Minister to lead the administration.

Mr Donaldson narrowly lost to Mr Poots in last month’s DUP leadership contest to replace Mrs Foster.

On Friday, deputy First Minister Ms O’Neill said she remained committed to working with Mr Givan for as long as he remained in the role of First Minister.

She urged her partners in government to “get their act together” to ensure effective governance at Stormont. – PA