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Northern Ireland First Minister Paul Givan quits in Brexit protocol protest

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orthern Ireland First Minister Paul Givan has announced his resignation from Stormont’s powersharing Executive.

The move by the Lagan Valley MLA is part of the DUP’s escalating protest strategy against Brexit’s Northern Ireland Protocol.

Mr Givan said the protocol, which has created trade barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, had undermined a cornerstone of powersharing in the region – governance with the consent of both nationalists and unionists.

“Today marks the end of what has been the privilege of my lifetime – to serve as the First Minister of Northern Ireland,” said Mr Givan, who was appointed to the role last summer.

“When I first entered the Assembly 12 years ago, I never expected to have the opportunity to lead the Government and serve the people of Northern Ireland as First Minister.”

His announcement comes 24 hours after DUP Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots acted unilaterally to order a halt to agri-food checks required under the post-Brexit trading arrangements.

Civil servants have yet to implement the instruction and checks are continuing.

Mr Givan’s resignation, which comes into effect at midnight, will automatically remove Sinn Fein deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill from her job because, under Stormont’s powersharing rules, one cannot hold office without the other.

There was a flurry of activity within Mr Givan and Ms O’Neill’s joint office on Thursday night as the ministers pushed through some outstanding decisions before leaving office at midnight.

They confirmed the appointment of a new victims’ commissioner. Ian Jeffers, who has extensive experience in the not-for-profit sector, takes up the post for a four-year term.

The ministers also reappointed Attorney General Brenda King for a further three-year term.

Other Stormont ministers can remain in post after midnight but the Executive can no longer meet and is unable to take significant policy decisions.

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