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General Election results – What does this mean for Northern Ireland?

As the polls predicted, Labour has become the next government. What will this mean for Northern Ireland, especially as it didn’t win any of the 18 seats in Northern Ireland nor even stand any candidates?

We must acknowledge the previous progress and hard work of the late Labour MP Mo Mowlam, as Northern Ireland Secretary during the last Labour government., Her “get on with it” attitude helped bring about the Good Friday Agreement.

Labour has committed to implementing, not renegotiating the Windsor Framework. A deal that was done to get Stormont fully up and running has not been fully implemented, so will Labour honour that deal and all commitments the Conservatives made with the DUP to get the institutions back up and running after two years of suspension in Northern Ireland, or will it ignore them?

While Labour can take some comfort in the DUP’s Leader Gavin Robinson's recent comments, where he sees no circumstances where the DUP would pull the plug on Stormont again, if outstanding commitments agreed with the previous government are not honoured will this once again bring instability to Northern Ireland’s pantomime political system?

Sinn Fein is also unhappy with some of Sir Keir's comments about a border poll, which he has previously declared not even to be on the horizon. His comments will, however, come as a relief to the Unionist parties and perhaps even the Alliance Party, which will not take a position on this constitutional issue.

Despite many issues such as Agriculture, Environment, Housing, and Health being devolved, one question our rural communities will be seeking clarity on is with Labour having committed to ban hunting, will it answer the Alliance Party's demands and extend any new legislation to Northern Ireland - bypassing Stormont and the devolved institutions?

Labour will need to very tread carefully as such moves will be perceived as a form of direct rule that would not sit easily with some parties in Northern Ireland. On one hand, such a move could collapse Stormont once again or on the other, pave the way for other Labour policies as seen in Wales to be extended to Northern Ireland. These would be a clear attack against rural pursuits and the rural way of life.

Sir Keir Starmer is no stranger to Northern Ireland and its delicate political system, having served 5 years as a human rights adviser to the Northern Ireland Policing Board from 2003. Even with Labour’s majority he, his cabinet colleagues and the new Northern Ireland Secretary will need to call on all their previous experience in the province to avoid the pitfalls and risks of collapse within the Northern Ireland political system.

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