Northern Ireland First Minister Foster resigns amidst political turmoil


AP/Liam McBurney

A car burns at Sperrin Park in the Waterside area of Derry in Northern Ireland on Monday April 5, 2021. (Liam McBurney/PA via AP)

Patrick Kane, World News Editor

Arlene Foster, the first minister of Northern Ireland (a UK equivalent to a governor of a province), announced that she will be resigning her position effective in June. This comes in the middle of an increasingly volatile climate arising in Northern Ireland due to the effects of Brexit.

Foster made her resignation public shortly after she indicated that she would also resign as party leader of the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party. Foster’s resignation is believed to be yet another sign of the unforeseen consequences of the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union in 2016. This news came in the wake of the rumors that several members of the DUP had been lobbying for her to resign due to her handling of Brexit.

AP/Francisco Seco

Since the 2016 referendum, many in Northern Ireland have feared that Brexit would reignite the political and sectarian violence that engulfed the region in the latter half of the 20th century in what is known as “The Troubles.” In late March, loyalists began mass rioting in Northern Ireland in response to the Irish Sea Border, a compromise put in place by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to avoid conflict with Irish republicans. Loyalists did not respond well to this policy, as they view it as cutting them off from the rest of the United Kingdom. As of now, there has been little response from republican groups like the Irish Republican Army, outside of a single bomb threat.

Declan McCarthy ’23, an Irish-American John Carroll student, shared his perspective on the boiling conflict in Northern Ireland. “I found it very unfortunate that that violence is erupting,” he said. “For a good amount of time there has been peace, but now with the struggles of Brexit … violence is going to continue. I think [with] the rumors of the letters of no confidence about Arlene Foster’s management of what’s going on, it doesn’t surprise me that she is stepping down.”

“The mismanagement of the Brexit situation with Ireland and Northern Ireland has re-kindled the fear of a designated border between the two and all hopes of a united Ireland lost. A situation like this has the potential of being like ‘The Troubles’,” McCarthy continued.

“I hope that a new leader [that is appointed to replace Foster] is able to soothe these problems so that peace can resume in Northern Ireland.”