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A breakthrough in Northern Ireland?

The Stormont Parliament Buildings in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

The Stormont Parliament Buildings in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
The Democratic Unionist Party, Northern Ireland’s largest pro-UK party, says it has cut a deal that allows the government to function after two years of political paralysis – but the EU, whose Brexit deal is at stake, is watching closely.

DUP leaders claim that Rishi Sunak’s UK government has agreed to scrap the customs checks and paperwork that slow the flow of goods between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, a controversial feature of the Brexit deal that London originally cut with the EU as part of Brexit. The agreement, according to DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, “takes away the border within the UK between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.”

In exchange, the DUP has agreed to rejoin Northern Ireland’s power-sharing executive with opposition parties that favor closer ties to the Republic of Ireland, which remains a member of the EU. By rejoining, the DUP allows North Ireland’s executive and assembly to get back to work for the first time since it began boycotting those institutions in February 2022.

There’s a catch, and it may be a big one: Details of the deal will only be revealed on Wednesday. If it does what the DUP leader says it does, the EU will want a word. Stay tuned …

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