The general election result caught many by surprise but when it became clear that the Tories would fall short of a majority all media attention turned to the prospect of the Tory-DUP agreement to keep the government going. This went into overdrive when Lib Dem leader Tim Farron ruled out any coalition or agreement with the Conservatives. With all other MPs in parties openly hostile to the Tories, with the exception of the DUP, the Conservatives found themselves backed into a corner but there remain problems with what they wish to achieve.
LGBT people across England, Scotland and Wales have been getting married for up to four years now but marriage equality has still yet to be achieved in Northern Ireland. A number of separate attempts have been made to legalise the practice through legislation at Stormont, but so far all have been unsuccessful. These attempts include one vote where a majority of MLAs backed same-sex marriage but didn’t pass because of a unionist petition of concern. However it does appear that political leaders in Northern Ireland are beginning to change their tune as public opinion has shifted. Although the existing dispute goes largely down green and orange lines, some unionist politicians seem to be softening their stance.
In the 2015 the DUP and the UUP formed an informal electoral alliance whereby the parties agreed not to run candidates in certain constituencies so as not to split the unionist vote. The result of this, in collaboration with some other local factors, was that unionist candidates in two constituencies, namely Fermanagh and South Tyrone and East Belfast, defeated non-unionist incumbents. However, in the last few days it was announced that the DUP and the UUP will not pursue such a pact in the upcoming general election. This needs to be exploited by the republican movement before the opportunity passes.
After a short election campaign full of tense exchanges and talk of the collapse of the Good Friday Agreement, the results are in. The story from the election is complex but the immediate reaction is the following. Sinn Féin wagered that bringing down the executive, in my view justifiably, would curry favour with the electorate. This shows to have been a correct estimation as the party massively increased their share of the vote Alliance also gained and this is thought to have come from unionists who are disaffected with the DUP.
Arlene Foster today unveiled the DUP’s manifesto for the assembly election that will be held on 2nd March. However, rather than outline a detailed plan about what the DUP was planning to do, she mentioned general policy goals with a lack of substance to back them up. Rather than talk about the issues that the people of Northern Ireland are desperate to have resolved, the former First Minister emphasised the potential electoral success of Sinn Féin in an attempt to scare unionists into voting for her party. This cannot be allowed to stand.
One of the many definitions of politics is that it is a collaborate effort between different social groups with the purpose of resolving disputes. As a result of this definition, a variety of government systems have been designed by political scientists, and many of these focus on the idea of consensus. Northern Ireland is a prime example of a consensus system, as opposed to the majoritarian system of Westminster. Consensus systems are designed to stop policy-making from occurring when there is no consensus. This mechanism is essentially to prevent one social group dominating another, but apparently some parts of Northern Irish civil society are unaware of this concept.
When same-sex marriage was legalised in England and Wales in 2013, many people who cared about LGBT celebrated as if the fight for equality had taken a massive step forward. This was the right thing to do because it was an important day in the British LGBT rights movement. However there were some people who only took a passing interest in the cause of LGBT rights, and mistakenly believed that this was the final battle. This perception was false. There are a number of issues that affect LGBT people in British society, and one of these issues was the stain on the character of those men convicted of homosexual acts before the Sexual Offences Act of 1967 decriminalised such behaviour. After a long campaign, this injustice has been rectified.