AP

N Ireland politics stay stuck as organ-donor law bid fails

Feb 14, 2023, 8:35 AM | Updated: 8:41 am

LONDON (AP) — Northern Ireland’s main British unionist party scuttled an attempt to restore the collapsed Belfast-based Assembly on Tuesday, refusing to budge on a Brexit-related boycott that has kept the legislature on ice for a year.

Politicians remain deadlocked despite signs of progress in talks between the U.K. and the European Union on ending the post-Brexit trade dispute behind Northern Ireland’s political crisis.

Lawmakers were called to the Stormont assembly building in an attempt to pass a new organ-donation law. The bid failed when the Democratic Unionist Party used its veto to block the election of a speaker — a prerequisite for any business to be done.

Under Northern Ireland’s political system, power is shared between Irish nationalists and British unionists, and neither side can govern without the other.

The DUP veto scuttled an attempt to pass “Daithi’s Law,” which would replace an opt-in organ donation system with one that presumes most adults to be potential donors unless they opt out. The bill is named for Daithi MacGabhann, a 6-year-old boy awaiting a heart transplant.

DUP legislator Paul Givan said his party supported the opt-out organ law but would not budge on its boycott. He said the U.K. government in London could step in and pass the necessary regulations while the assembly was suspended.

Daithi’s father, Mairtin MacGabhann, said it was “a very disappointing day.”

Northern Ireland is the only part of the U.K. that shares a border with an EU member nation, Ireland. When the U.K. left the bloc in 2020, the British government and the EU agreed to keep the Irish border free of customs posts and other checks to preserve the open border that is a key pillar of Northern Ireland’s peace process.

Instead, there are checks on some goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the U.K. Unionist politicians say the new trade border undermines Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom. They are refusing to return to government until the trade barriers are removed.

The political impasse has left Northern Ireland’s 1.8 million people with no functioning government and facing a new election that almost no one wants. Last week the U.K. government extended the deadline for forming a new government by a year in an attempt to buy breathing time to find a solution.

The U.K. government hopes to resolve the EU trade dispute and break the political impasse before the 25th anniversary in April of Northern Ireland’s 1998 Good Friday peace accord. It is pinning its hopes on striking a deal with the EU that would ease the checks and coax unionists back into the government.

Achieving that long looked unlikely, as Britain threatened to unilaterally rip up parts of the Brexit agreement, and the EU accused the U.K. of failing to honor the legally binding treaty.

But the mood has improved since Prime Minister Rishi Sunak took office in late October, and the two sides have held constructive talks. However, any compromise by Sunak will be a hard sell to the DUP and is sure to anger staunch Brexiteers who form a powerful faction inside the governing Conservative Party.

___

Follow AP’s coverage of Brexit at https://apnews.com/hub/brexit and of British politics at https://apnews.com/hub/british-politics

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A Boeing 737 Max suffered damage to parts of the plane's structure after it went into a “Dutch ro...

Associated Press

Plane that did ‘Dutch roll’ on flight from Phoenix suffered structural damage, investigators say

A Boeing 737 Max suffered damage to parts of the plane's structure after it went into a “Dutch roll” during a flight from Phoenix last month.

2 days ago

This photo provided by Randy Shannon shows Mooney Falls on the Havasupai reservation outside the vi...

Associated Press

Dozens report illness after trips to waterfalls near Grand Canyon

Dozens of hikers say they fell ill during trips to a popular Arizona tourist destination that features towering blue-green waterfalls deep in a gorge neighboring Grand Canyon National Park.

2 days ago

Mugshot of Rudy Giuliani, who was processed Monday, June 10, 2024, in the Arizona fake electors cas...

Associated Press

Rudy Giuliani posts $10K cash bond after being processed in Arizona fake electors case

Rudy Giuliani, a former New York City mayor and Donald Trump attorney, was processed Monday in the Arizona fake electors case.

5 days ago

FILE - White House former chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters at the White House, Wed...

Associated Press

Former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows pleads not guilty in Arizona fake elector case

Former Donald Trump presidential chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump 2020 Election Day operations director Michael Roman pleaded not guilty Friday in Phoenix to nine felony charges for their roles in an effort to overturn Trump's Arizona election loss to Joe Biden.

9 days ago

deadly heat wave last summer...

Associated Press

After a deadly heat wave last summer, metro Phoenix is changing tactics

Fresh memories of the deadly heat wave last summer have led Arizona authorities to launch new tactics ahead of summer 2024.

19 days ago

A Yuma man has been arrested for allegedly starting a wildfire in a national wildlife preserve near...

Associated Press

Man accused of starting wildfire in national wildlife preserve in Yuma

A Yuma man has been arrested for allegedly starting a wildfire in a national wildlife preserve near the California border.

20 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

N Ireland politics stay stuck as organ-donor law bid fails