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Government Government

Work to re-establish a Northern Ireland executive as early as possible

Last updated: 10:58am 1 November 2019

The next Conservative government will therefore work to re-establish a strong, stable and inclusive executive at the earliest opportunity.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.34

Our verdict

The Northern Ireland Executive is the devolved government of Northern Ireland, established under the terms of the Belfast Agreement. Since January 2017, however, Northern Ireland has been without an executive as a result of the Renewable Heat Incentive Scandal. This policy is a promise to work to re-establish an executive at the earliest opportunity.

Although negotiations are held between the leading parties in Northern Ireland, it’s fair to say there has been activity on the part of the government too. In September 2018, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland set out her plan to enable restoration of the executive by introducing new legislation in October. Fresh talks were also planned following the murder of journalist Lyra McKee in April 2019.

In July 2019, the government passed the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019, extending the deadline for the formation of an executive, while setting obligations for the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, including reporting on progress. The postponed deadline has passed, meaning that, under the act, a set of changes will be made to law in Northern Ireland regarding same-sex marriage and abortion.

There is currently still no executive in Northern Ireland – it now holds the world record for the longest period without a sitting government.  Some argue that the UK government’s agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party undermines its impartiality in attempts to re-establish the Northern Ireland executive. However, taken literally, this policy is simply a promise to “work” to re-establish an executive. There is evidence of at least some work having been done by the UK government, brokering talks and legislating to encourage re-establishment within a set timeframe, so we’re marking this as ‘done’.

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