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In Northern Ireland, the new British prime minister shows a desire for appeasement

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New British Prime Minister Keir Starmer showed his desire to please Northern Ireland on Monday, where he received a warm welcome despite high expectations following tensions over Brexit.

As part of his inaugural tour of the UK, the new head of the Labor government met with Prime Minister Michelle O'Neill (Sinn Féin, Republican) and Deputy Prime Minister Emma Little-Pengelly (DUP, Unionist). Both camps jointly rule the province under the 1998 peace accord.

Thanks to this trip, Keir Starmer has indicated that he wants to demonstrate the “importance of Northern Ireland” to himself and his government, ahead of what he hopes is the day after Scotland and before Wales. A respectful, collaborative approach.”

The new leader, 60, welcomed “very positive and constructive discussions” with local politicians, stressing his government's mandate “for change, for stability in Northern Ireland”.

The leader of the Republican Party, Mary Lou Macdonald, led her pawns forward, highlighting Sinn Féin's “delight” at the return to power of Labor, “the party of the Good Friday Agreement”.

She told the media that she reminded the new British leader that “referendums and the conditions around referendums chart our future” were at the heart of the deal that brought peace after three decades of conflict, signed under Tony Blair.

At the end of Thursday's general election, the main republican party, Sinn Féin, retained its seven seats and became the Northern Irish party with the most representation in the British Parliament in London. But to signal his rejection of British sovereignty in Northern Ireland, he does not sit in Westminster.

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Sinn Féin edged out the DUP, which lost three out of eight seats, including two to other unionist parties.

– “Productive discussion” –

Sinn Féin, the former political wing of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) paramilitary organization during the Troubles, is already the leading force in Northern Irish local assemblies.

But for James Pow, a professor at Queen's University in Belfast, “the fundamentals haven't changed”, with Northern Ireland's position within the United Kingdom and a roughly equal distribution of votes between Republicans in the legislative election. In favor of integration.

DUP leader Gavin Robinson spoke of a “productive discussion” with Keir Starmer and stressed the need for London to “pay attention” to its relationship with Northern Ireland.

Historically, Unionists have been allied with the British Conservative Party, but few mourned the defeat of the Tories after 14 years in power.

Among unionists, there is hope that “Keir Starmer will be able to promote greater alignment with the EU (on trade, editor's note), which will lessen the impact of Brexit”, explains James Poe.

Unionists continue to see the post-Brexit trade rules, agonizingly agreed after months of institutional deadlock, as establishing a border in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United States.

– Anglo-Irish Relations –

Labour's program plans to overhaul the controversial “heritage and reconciliation” law, one of the rare measures involving Northern Ireland, which led to Ireland's appeal against London to the European Court of Human Rights.

The law, which took effect in May, is expected to end problem-related felony investigations, civil cases and criminal prosecutions and provide immunity for veterans on all sides.

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Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris warmly welcomed Keir Starmarin's victory and accepted an invitation to Downing Street, scheduled for July 17.

Keir Starmer has said he wants the relationship between London and Dublin to be “cooperative” and “respectful” and believes he can achieve a better post-Brexit EU deal than the “battered” text secured by Boris Johnson.

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