After the resignation of Edwin Poots as DUP leader, there is a growing expectation that First Minister of Northern Ireland, Paul Givan will resign. It is worth pointing out that Paul Givan was only officially appointed as First Minister on Thursday, after being put forward for nomination by ally and then party leader, Edwin Poots.
It would make him the shortest serving First Minister in the history of Northern Irish politics. According to Belfast Live, ‘Northern Ireland’s under pressure First Minister Paul Givan is to step down’. ‘He has been advised his tenure is all but up'.
Party officers explained to the Lisburn man that one of his first official acts as Stormont leader will be his resignation announcement. A senior DUP source said: “Paul will not be expected to go in days but he will be expected to go'.
'The new leader of the DUP will be looking for a team around them and in this case, it will not include Paul Givan and he has been made aware of that. These are delicate and bruising times for Unionism and for Northern Ireland and the party has a lot of work to do to regain the confidence of the public and get back to work'.
'Reports that this will happen in days are not accurate. It will happen shortly, within a few short weeks. The most important thing now is for the party to get behind the leader they wanted and support that person. It will be up to the new leader to ensure Mr Givan tenders his resignation and I understand, given the circumstances that that will be acceptable to him'.
Belfast Live elaborated further by saying that ‘it is believed that Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, also of Lagan Valley, will be the new leader. And with that post secured, the next move would be for Mr Givan, whose own father said he was too young for the job, to be invited to step down.
Further, 'his time in post may prove shorter than the 21 days clocked up by Edwin Poots as party leader following his exit on Thursday night. Once the new leader of the party is in place, and the First Minister steps down, Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill will also be out of office’.
‘It will leave Northern Ireland on a seven-day stopwatch when the DUP and Sinn Féin must re-nominate their candidates for post. The alternative would be no re-nomination triggering the collapse of Northern Ireland government and an election in October'.
The sequence of events is being choreographed ‘at speed but not haste’ according to one senior DUP source, who added: “We are on the right path now, we are facing the right direction and we will have the right person at the wheel. There will be some scrapes and bumps to iron out but we are confident in the plan, it’s the right plan for the country and for the party.”
In summary, the resignation of Paul Givan as First Minister is all but certain to happen. As predicted, following his nomination by his ally, Edwin Poots, who resigned as DUP leader, which came about in the first place, due to DUP figures’ disapproval of the passing of Irish language rights and their disapproval of Paul Givan being appointed as First Minister, Mr. Givan’s position became untenable.
What the future holds now, remains to be seen. It is likely that Sir Jeffrey Donaldson will become the next DUP leader as the leadership race is likely to be between him and Sammy Wilson. In the last occasion, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson lost out to Edwin Poots in the recent DUP leadership contest. Whether he becomes the next First Minister, or whether he chooses someone else, within the DUP to become First Minister, it remains to be seen.
Following the legacy of Edwin Poots choosing Paul Givan to become the First Minister, if elected as DUP leader, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, may opt not to repeat the mistakes of his outgoing predecessor and may become First Minister, himself. If this fails to materialise and re-nominations do not take place for the positions of First and Deputy First Ministers, then early Assembly elections could be held in Northern Ireland, in October of this year, which are not officially scheduled until May 2022.
If this occurs, the DUP have significant challenges to face to overcome the recent polling difficulties that they have faced as they have fallen behind Sinn Féin and the Alliance Party. Whatever happens, between now and the next couple of weeks in Northern Irish politics, the DUP must put the interests of the people of Northern Ireland, before their interests, to make power sharing work for everyone.