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Your essential guide to the 2022 Northern Ireland Assembly election

Voters in Northern Ireland will head to the polls tomorrow, May 5th, to elect the assembly. 90 members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) will be elected, a total of five from each of the 18 constituencies. 

This election could produce a potentially ‘seismic shift’ according to commentators, because for the first time in Northern Ireland’s 100-year existence, a nationalist party – Sinn Féin – may become the largest party. Sinn Féin’s ultimate goal for Northern Ireland is to leave the UK and become one, united nation with the Republic of Ireland.

Faced with that looming threat, Jeffrey Donaldson, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Sinn Féin’s long-time, bitter opponents, said the battle at the ballot box on Thursday represents “the most important election in our history”.

While victory for Sinn Féin doesn’t mean a border poll would be imminent, it would certainly represent a historic tipping point in a place which is still navigating a delicate peace process, and could pave the way for months of political uncertainty. 

The Good Friday Agreement of 1998, which brought to an end decades of violence in Northern Ireland, established a system in which the largest nationalist and unionist parties are obliged to power-share – but who won the most seats has always been important.

A unionist party has always been returned as the largest party at Stormont, providing a level of reassurance to those who want to remain part of the UK and see themselves as British.

However, there is a tangible sense in the North that many people have grown increasingly fed up with so-called Green and Orange politics. 

A sign held up to spur on runners at the recent Belfast Marathon read: “At least you’re running better than Stormont,” a nod to the fact that for the past five years there was no assembly, after Sinn Féin pulled out. When things looked to be getting back on track this year, the DUP were the ones to pull out of the executive over the Brexit arrangements. 

The political tug-of-war between Northern Ireland’s largest parties leaves the province in limbo, with public services stagnating without the ability to agree updated budgets and allocate millions in extra funding. Such action has resulted in moderate unionists, in particular, voting for centre-ground parties who do not align themselves with either Orange or Green. Cross-community Alliance is one such party which has seen a sharp rise in its vote in recent elections, testament to the fact that there is a deep-rooted frustration with perpetual “crisis politics” at Stormont. 

Other fundamental issues have had the ability to transcend the political, religious and cultural divide in the North. One such issue – which has become more prominent than ever in recent years – is abortion and the right to life. Many nationalists and veteran Sinn Féin supporters were angered and upset with the party’s all-out advocacy of a radical abortion regime, introduced in 2019, which permits abortions to be performed in the North on an elective basis – and some even up to the point where the baby is viable. 

Mary-Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill’s gleeful celebrations at Dublin Castle when the eighth amendment was repealed – as they held aloft a hand-made sign promising ‘The North is Next’ – is something which remains permanently etched in many people’s minds. 

The emergence of Aontú has been a direct result of Sinn Féin’s ‘abortion extremism’. The party was founded by Peadar Tóibín, a TD who resigned from Sinn Féin after it imposed a whip on Ireland’s 2018 Abortion Act, forcing all TDs to support the abortion legislation. Aontú now registers national support at 2%, with support reaching 5% in Connaught, as per the Sunday Post’s Red C poll, placing Aontú as the fourth largest Party in the region.

The party’s steady growth in a short period of time has produced 12 candidates across every constituency in the North for this election. The presence of Aontú in Northern Ireland is testament to the fact that many republicans and nationalists are not willing to accept Sinn Féin’s position on abortion, and that some issues are indeed more important than Orange and Green. 

Below is a short guide to the parties running in the 2022 Assembly election, providing a run-down of party policies.

Where do the parties stand on the key issues?

TOP PRIORITIES:

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP): 

  • Fix the NHS
  • Remove the Northern Ireland Protocol
  • Maintain Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom
  • Grow the economy
  • Keep Northern Ireland’s schools ‘world-class’
  • Help working families

Sinn Féin:

  • Tackle the rising cost of living
  • Re-establish the executive
  • Plan for Irish unity
  • Tackle climate change

Aontú:

  • Restore the Human Right to Life to all children and reverse the abortion law that discriminates against children with disabilities
  • Reform the political institutions to stop MLAs getting paid if they don’t do their job and ensure the executive cannot be crashed by one party again
  • Create a New Ireland Forum to bring together all of political and civic society throughout Ireland in order to fix the problems created by Brexit, to unite our people and to plan for Irish Independence
  • Tackle the cost of living crisis which has been “driven by the Stormont establishment”

Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP):

  • Tackle the cost of living crisis by giving every household a minimum of £200
  • Reduce waiting lists by investing £1bn in the health service and advocate a 6% pay increase for nurses
  • Increase free pre-school childcare provision from 12.5 hours a week to 30 hours a week
  • Ensure the full realisation of LGBT+ equality.
  • A comprehensive ban on all forms of conversion therapy. The SDLP would also take every necessary measure to ensure sufficient funding for LGBT+ organisations and support services, particularly in rural areas.

Ulster Unionist Party (UUP):

  • Maintain Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom
  • Support and rebuild the health service
  • Secure common sense alternatives to the Northern Ireland Protocol

Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV):

  • Scrap the Northern Ireland Protocol
  • Maintain Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom
  • Defend the NHS
  • Reform Stormont
  • Set up a Nursing Reserve Service and a new trade body to boost business links within the UK’s internal market

Alliance Party:

  • Fix Northern Ireland’s “broken” health service, tackle waiting lists and invest in mental health and preventative services
  • Promote and improve Integrated Education provision and build on our Integrated Education Bill to ensure Northern Ireland’s children “are no longer educated apart” and deliver a better future for our young people
  • Deliver a Green New Deal to create at least 50,000 sustainable jobs by 2030, improve energy efficiency and address climate change
  • Strengthen legislation on hate crime through a new Hate Crime Bill

Green Party:

  • Tackle the ‘climate emergency’
  • Secure long-term investment and reform of healthcare services
  • Tackle the cost of living crisis by introducing rent controls and increasing the minimum wage

People Before Profit (PBP):

  • Revitalise the health service
  • Launch of a Hardship Emergency Fund to distribute a direct payment of at least £1000 to households hardest hit by the cost of living crisis
  • Climate action 
  • Provision of abortion services in the North and advocacy of a woman’s ‘right to control her own body’
  • Promotion of “a vision of a better, socialist society where there are top quality free public services, decent wages for working people, full rights for ethnic minorities, women and the LGBTQ+ community, and a real effort to stop our planet being destroyed by climate change’

A detailed look at the party policies on: 

ABORTION AND THE RIGHT TO LIFE

 

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP):

  • The DUP state that they are “a pro-life party and will continue to support the rights of both the mother and the unborn child”.
  • In December, former First Minister Paul Givan introduced a Bill in the Assembly to protect unborn babies with disabilities from abortion.
  • He has vowed the Party will resist the Westminster Government’s order that forces Stormont to commission abortion in Northern Ireland.

Sinn Féin:

  • The Party supports abortion for any reason, and right up to birth.
  • Sinn Fein collaborated with MPs at Westminster who introduced the legislation which was enacted to abort babies in Northern Ireland.
  • The Party also supports and has advocated for ‘exclusion zones’ to ban and criminalise pro-life prayer and outreach outside abortion centres.

Aontú:

  • The party has a pro-life policy, stating: “Aontú is completely pro-life, and seeks to remove the legislation of abortion’. In its 2022 Manifesto, the Party says it is “dedicated to human rights and equality for all.”
  • It also says: “Aontú is now the only All Ireland party that supports the right to life of everyone. We in Aontú will do everything in our power to ensure that compassionate supports are provided to all mothers to help raise their children to their full potential and to fight this undemocratic, radical abortion regime through Stormont and through the Courts.”

Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP):

  • The Party has no policy on protecting the unborn. SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, South Belfast MP Clare Hanna and a range of other MLAs have been vocal in their support for the abortion law enacted in Northern Ireland.
  • The party fully supported ‘exclusion zones’ to ban people from offering help or alternatives outside abortion centres.
  • In April, Derry MLA Sinead McLaughlin, an advocate of the Westminster-imposed abortion law, came under fire for telling pro-life constituents to “get a life” after they asked for her stance on abortion and raised the issue of protecting the unborn, something she said she was “sick and tired” of hearing.

Ulster Unionist Party (UUP):

  • The Party has no policy on protecting unborn children.
  • Some party members supported the abortion law imposed on Northern Ireland by Westminster in 2019.
  • There was also support among some in the party for ‘exclusion zones’ to criminalise pro-lifers outside abortion centres.
  • Party leader Doug Beattie is on record saying that Northern Ireland needs more abortion provision “as soon as possible.”

Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV):

  • The Party has described itself as “stanchly pro-life” and its leader, Jim Allister, is a vocal advocate for the rights of the unborn child at Stormont

Alliance:

  • The Party has no policy protecting the unborn and is a vocal advocate for abortion rights. Party leader, Naomi Long, supported Westminster’s abortion legislation.
  • The party also supported ‘exclusion zones’ banning pro-life people from offering alternatives or praying for women outside abortion centres.
  • All Alliance Party members in the NI Assembly have voted in favour of introducing abortion to Northern Ireland.

Green Party:

  • The Party supports abortion for any reason and without time limit.
  • The Green Party supported the Westminster-imposed abortion law introduced to Northern Ireland. The Party also supported ‘exclusion zones’ outside abortion centres in the North, with the ‘Safe Access Zones’ Bill being introduced by its leader Clare Bailey.
  • Ms Bailey is a strong advocate for abortion rights, and has spoken about her work as a ‘clinic escort’ at abortion centres.

People Before Profit:

  • The Party supports abortion for any reason and without time limit.
  • The Party also supported the abortion law imposed by Westminster, and supports exclusion zones banning prayer and outreach at abortion centres.
  • “We salute the thousands of women who have stood up to the dinosaurs of the DUP in asserting their right to control their own bodies and have abortion services in the North,” the Party says in it’s 2022 Assembly election Manifesto.

 

COST OF LIVING  

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP):

In its plan to address the cost of living crisis, the Party has vowed to:

  • Deliver 30 hours of free childcare each week
  • Financially support hard-pressed families with an Energy Support Payment.
  • A windfall tax on energy firms
  • Deliver Energy Efficiency schemes to support better-insulated homes.
  • Make going green affordable to homes in NI

Sinn Féin:

The Party says it will give £230 to each household to help with cost of living pressures and an additional £100 to those who previously accessed the Energy Payment Support Scheme. The Party’s Manifesto also promises to:

  • Extend Business Rates Holiday by one month and allocate £70m financial support for Agri-Food Sector to deal with rising costs
  • Allocate an additional £9m and £8m to the Discretionary Support Scheme and Emergency Fuel Payment Scheme respectively

Aontú:

The Party states: “We seek to return the powers to control taxation on fuel from London to the democratic control of the people of the North. This will reduce the cost of energy for families and businesses during this crisis.”

The new republican movement seeks:

  • A devolution of fuel taxes from England to Ireland so we can lower them, to help struggling families.
  • Equalisation of Corporation Taxes with the south of Ireland to drive Foreign Direct Investment
  • Devolution of more tax powers in order to grow the economy, to improve the prosperity of families and to significantly reduce the cost of fuel in this Cost-of-Living Crisis.
  • Implementation of price caps on Electricity & Gas
  • Implementation a VAT/Excise Duties Waiver on Fuel
  • A reversal of the Cuts to the Universal Credit
  • An emergency payment of up to £500 to middle-to-low income families to deal with the cost of living crisis ‘hammering our communities.’

Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP):

The Cost of Living crisis is the SDLP’s “first, second and third priority” according to leader Colum Eastwood MP. The Party’s manifesto lays out a 6 point cost-of-living action plan that aims to ensure the following: Giving every household a minimum £200, which is similar to Sinn Fein’s pledge to give every household a minimum of £230. The Party also says it will tackle the crisis by:

  • Giving families with two children on free school meals (FSM) £1200 before December
  • Relaunching the FSM payment scheme during the school summer holidays
  • Reducing the cap on energy market profits
  • Pressing the UK Government to introduce one-year VAT holiday for domestic energy charges
  • Pressing the UK Government to introduce windfall tax on energy companies.

Ulster Unionist Party (UUP):

The Party says it will address the cost of living by:

  • Establishing a fuel poverty task force
  • Expanding the Warm Homes Discount to Northern Ireland – a sum of money credited to an individual’s electricity or gas account
  • Calling on Westminster to lower fuel duty for all, with additional rebate for “essential” users

Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV):

The Party seeks to ensure Stormont cuts waste and abandons plans for an Irish language act. It also wants to:

  • Scrap the Northern Ireland Protocol which is driving up prices
  • Free Northern Ireland from the EU VAT regime and reduce VAT on energy bills by scrapping the Protocol,

Alliance:

The Party says it will:

  • Deliver a home heating support grant voucher scheme targeted at low-income households
  • Introduce a £20-a-week child payment to protect children already vulnerable to poverty
  • Push Westminster to uplift benefits in line with the real rate of inflation

Green Party:

In its Manifesto, the Green Party vows to tackle the cost of living through the below aims:

  • Introduce rent controls and strengthen renters’ rights
  • Support the reintroduction of the Universal Credit uplift
  • Introduce a properly calculated living wage, as outlined by the Living Wage Foundation

People Before Profit (PBP):

To tackle the cost of living crisis, the Party has set out the launch of an Emergency Hardship Fund: the distribution of a direct payment of £1,000 to households hit by the cost of living crisis, including all but the top fifth of earners. Measures also include:

  • Price caps in place on energy and fuel prices
  • Inflation-busting pay rise for all workers, and fight for minimum wage devolution with a view to increasing it

 

ECONOMY

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP):

The DUP outlines economic growth as one of its key policies in this election. It vows to:

  • Support 20,000 jobs in the next 5 years.
  • Create higher paid jobs in AgriTech, Life and Health Sciences and Advanced Manufacturing.
  • Create 5,000 new tech jobs.
  • Make Northern Ireland 100% fibre broadband.
  • Deliver a modern career service in schools.
  • Expand our apprenticeship programme.
  • Make tourism a £2billion industry.

Sinn Féin:

In its Manifesto, the Party says it wants to build a “more inclusive and sustainable economy for all.” Sinn Féin’s priorities in economy include:

  • Delivery of a new Economic Strategy that maximises dual access to the EU and British markets
  • Focus on creating good jobs; promoting regional balance; improving productivity and increasing decarbonisation in a New Economic Strategy
  • Following the independent review, ensure Invest NI prioritises regional balance and support for local business development
  • Seek greater devolution of fiscal powers to better equip the Assembly to target resources and develop progressive taxation policies that will improve public services

Aontú:

The Party wants to end the dependency of the north on the block grant by devolving taxation powers from London to Belfast and make the northern corporation tax the same as in the south. In addition to this, it says it will:

  • Invest in transport and broadband infrastructure particularly west of the River Bann
  • Maximise the international reach of Invest NI by sharing international infrastructure with the IDA and Enterprise Ireland and doubling the staff of InterTradeIreland

Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP):

The SDLP’s seeks to explore the potential of re-introducing the £20 uplift for Universal Credit claimants. It also says it will:

  • Agree a three-year budget and reduce corporation tax
  • Target greater investment and job creation in the north west as well as areas of north and west Belfast

Ulster Unionist Party (UUP):

In its approach to the economy, the UUP says it will:

  • Support city deals/growth deals
  • Set up a Job Skills Fund to ensure proper funding of job skills, apprenticeships and life-long learning
  • Establish a “Freeport Northern Ireland” to include all ports and airports in Northern Ireland

Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV):

The TUV vows to:

  • Highlight the economic benefits of Northern Ireland remaining in the UK, such as UK-wide Covid support schemes
  • Push for the creation of an InterTrade UK body to promote free trade and business within the whole UK
  • Oppose legislation which could see vast reductions to the agri food sector in the name of environmentalism

Alliance Party:

Alliance vows to improve the economy through the following aims:

  • Transition to a green economy and create more than 50,000 secure green jobs
  • Invest in skills by delivering the new Skills Strategy for Northern Ireland to address upskilling and retraining opportunities in the green economy
  • Create a universal, affordable childcare scheme, with fully funded hours paid directly to providers

Green Party:

On the economy, the Green Party outlines its plans to:

  • Invest in renewables and create well-paid green jobs
  • Fast-track apprenticeship programmes to train the workers required to adequately retrofit our housing stock
  • Introduce a full childcare strategy that will meet the needs of working parents

People Before Profit (PBP):

PBP outlines its approach to the economy as follows:

  • Bringing key sectors of economy into public ownership, including fuel and energy companies
  • Improving workers’ and trade union rights to help counteract decades of stagnant wages and deteriorating conditions
  • Reorienting economy to prioritise the needs of people and planet over the profits of large corporations

 

HEALTH

 

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP):

The DUP vows to ‘fix the NHS’. Expanding on this policy, it outlines its plan to:

  • Invest an extra £1billion to cut waiting lists using a partnership with the independent sector.
  • Deliver an additional 750,000 hospital assessments and procedures
  • Train more GPs per year
  • Implement Bengoa reforms for a better health service.

Sinn Féin:

In its Manifesto, the Party pledges to:

  • Increase health budget by £1billion over the next three years
  • Recruit and retain more nurses, doctors, GPs and HSC staff
  • Invest in transformation of health and social care

Aontú:

In its Manifesto, the Party highlights that more than 350,000 people are waiting for a first consultant-led appointment in Northern Ireland, while more than 260,000 people are waiting on Hospital appointments for more than a year. “That’s 1 in 7 people in this state whose health is deteriorating while waiting on a Hospital waiting list. This is criminal. It’s intolerable and it makes a lie of the principle of a free health service,” Aontu says. It promises to improve the situation with the following objectives:

  • Complete a Work Force Plan within the next 6 months to ensure that our health service is properly staffed.
  • Ensure the pay of Nurses and Health Care Staff keeps pace, at the very least, with the rate of inflation.  
  • Return the 800 hospital beds to the health services that were removed by the five executive parties over the past 10 years
  • The delivery of a fully funded mental health strategy to support those who have suffered so much over the last two years
  • €1.5bn in investment into the reduction of hospital waiting lists to ensure that no one has to wait longer than a year for the treatment that they need

Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP):

The SDLP says it will:

  • Fully fund the 10-year mental health strategy and appoint a junior minister with responsibility for mental health
  • Create elective surgical hubs to ensure no matter how busy emergency practice gets, there is no elective practice reduction
  • Provide more care outside hospitals in the community, where people need it most

Ulster Unionist Party (UUP):

In its approach to healthcare, the UUP says it will:

  • Protect and enhance cancer services, including implementing the 10-year cancer strategy
  • Support and properly incentivise the move towards a genuine seven-day-a-week health service
  • Increase funding for child and adolescent mental health services to a minimum of 10% and create a single mental health trust

Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV):

The TUV advocates for:

  • The return of a readily accessible GP service
  • A loyalty bonus for NHS staff – nursing and medical graduates should have their university tuition paid in full if they are still working in NI five years after graduating
  • One hundred more cancer specialist nurses, minmum pricing for alcohol, a new tobacco strategy and the removal of current abortion laws

Alliance Party:

Alliance vows to improve the economy through the following aims:

  • Transition to a green economy and create more than 50,000 secure green jobs
  • Invest in skills by delivering the new Skills Strategy for Northern Ireland to address upskilling and retraining opportunities in the green economy
  • Create a universal, affordable childcare scheme, with fully funded hours paid directly to providers

Green Party:

On healthcare, the Green Party outlines its plans to:

  • Support the full commissioning of abortion services
  • Oppose cuts to frontline health services, ensuring that all health service staff have fair pay and working conditions
  • Increase investment in mental health services

People Before Profit (PBP):

PBP vows to improve healthcare in the North by:

  • Opposing and reversing privatisation within the NHS locally.
  • Rebuilding NHS with massive increase in investment to reduce waiting times
  • Giving a proper pay rise to health workers to help retain staff, counteract burnout, and reward pandemic efforts

 

EDUCATION

 

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP):

The DUP says one of its key aims is to “keep our schools world-class,” outlining:

  • Fair funding model for all schools
  • Build more new schools in the next 5 years
  • Modernise curriculum for the 21st Century workplace
  • Widen access to breakfast and homework clubs
  • A cap on school uniform costs
  • Restructure special educational needs services

Sinn Féin:

The Party says it will:

  • End academic selection
  • Improve the curriculum by including age appropriate relationship and sexual education, climate change, and emotional health and well being
  • Respond to the increasing demand for both integrated education and Irish medium education

Aontú:

The Party says it “will work to ensure that no child is left behind” It wants to:

  • Increase Education Investment by £300m 
  • Reduce class sizes
  • Increase Human Resources
  • Streamline our teachers’ time and energy into teaching itself, with less administrative bureaucracy and paperwork
  • Tackle long waiting lists for additional support and assessments for Special Educational Needs
  • Protect schools in rural areas and towns
  • Impose a cap on the cost of school uniforms

Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP):

In a Manifesto which widely focuses on young people, the SDLP outlines plans to:

  • Tackle educational underachievement including the “extortionate costs” of school uniforms
  • Develop a 21st century curriculum which is broad and develops skills so no child leaves school disadvantaged
  • Support the principle of parental choiec including faith-based, integrated, Irish medium and controlled schools

Ulster Unionist Party (UUP):

In its approach to education, the UUP says it will:

  • Establish a Single Education System through the existing “controlled” education sector
  • Support special educational needs by actively supporting well-informed proposals to remedy the currently ‘unacceptable situation’
  • Place a greater emphasis on mental health services provision to contront the mental health crisis
  • Overcome the Pandemic Learning Gap, referencing the publication of data from Ofsted showing regress

Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV):

The TUV advocates for:

  • Addressing the “cold house atmosphere” in our universities towards students from a unionist background
  • An evidence-based curriculum overhaul, investment in teacher training and fair pay
  • Commitment to academic selection and a culture of celebration of hard work and achievement across all aspects of school life

Alliance Party:

Alliance’s policy on education includes:

  • Support for integrated education
  • Opposition to academic selection for post-primary transfer
  • Securing evidence-based, inclusive relationship and sexuality education in schools

Green Party:

The Green Party wants to:

  • End academic selection for post-primary education
  • Ensure that all children have access to integrated education
  • Increase investment in early years education

People Before Profit:

PBP outlines:

  • Proper investment to reduce class sizes and improve staff pay
  • Proper investment in integrated, non-selective education to provide a universal, accessible, lifelong education system, free at the point of access for all
  • Protecting third-level education by removing tuition fees, and improving pay and conditions for university and college staff

 

NI PROTOCOL:

Additional checks on goods arriving in Northern Ireland from Great Britain are regarded by unionists as a border in the Irish Sea. The Northern Ireland Protocol is opposed by all the unionist parties, who are pressing the UK Government for action against it.

 

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP): 

One of the key policies of the DUP is the removal of the Protocol. The DUP has outlined that:

  • The Protocol must be replaced by arrangements that restore Northern Ireland’s place within the UK internal market
  • Any new arrangements must be able to command the support of unionists as well as nationalists
  • Any new arrangements are to be judged against party’s seven tests to determine whether they respect Northern Ireland’s position as part of the UK

Sinn Féin:

  • Sinn Féin is in favour of the Protocol and wants to “maximise the potential of the Protocol and access to the EU and British markets.”

Aontú:

  • Aontú supports the provision of the Protocol as the only solution to deal with the Brexit crisis that has resulted from the remain vote in the north being ignored 
  • The Protocol is “the only practical solution to a self-made disaster by the DUP and the Tories,” the Party says
  • Support for technical solutions to the challenges of border checks
  • Build on the economic opportunities offered by access to the British and EU markets by providing funding and human resources to firms in the north seeking to export to both markets

Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP):

The SDLP say that the Northern Ireland Protocol should remain, adding the following aims:

  • Support for practical solution to issues such as those around medicines, chilled-meat grace periods and the movement of animals
  • Maximise the potential of dual market access and create a new European investment hub for Northern Ireland

Ulster Unionist Party (UUP):

The UUP is opposed to the Protocol and says that “common sense alternatives” must be found. It also advocates for:

  • Ensuring there are no checks on goods travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland that are staying in NI
  • The immediate removal of medicines from the scope of the Protocol

Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV):

The TUV says one of its key aims is to abolish the Northern Ireland Protocol and opposing the Protocol has been front and centre of its 2022 election campaign

  • Leader Jim Allister says the TUV has been the “authentic voice of opposition to the Protocol” since it was unveiled.
  • “There is more of an awakening within unionism than maybe there has been for some time, and I think the Protocol has been a catalyst in that regard,” said Jim Allister.

Alliance Party: 

Alliance seek to negotiate a comprehensive UK-EU Veterinary Agreement, with flexibilities on movement of goods. It also wants to:

  • Promote Northern Ireland’s dual market access to GB and the EU
  • Seek direct representation for Northern Ireland on UK-EU bodies

Green Party:

  • The Green Party supports the Northern Ireland Protocol, and says it wants to ensure that Northern Ireland maximises every opportunity from its unique position following the UK’s exit from the EU.
  • The Party also supports negotiations between the UK government and the EU to iron out technicalities with the Protocol

People Before Profit (PBP):

PBP says it will:

  • Reject DUP moves to scaremonger over the issue to distract from their own internal crisis
  • Reject the creation of a hard border, customs posts or immigration checks on the island of Ireland
  • Reject moves to weaken economic and societal links between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland

 

BORDER POLL:

 

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP): 

  • Northern Ireland should remain part of the United Kingdom

Sinn Féin:

  • Support Irish unity 

Aontú:

  • Aontú promises to hold a referendum on Irish reunification within five years
  • Create a New Ireland Forum to bring together all political and civic society throughout Ireland in order to fix the problems created by Brexit, build the all-Ireland economy and plan for Irish Unity
  • A programme to integrate service delivery on an all-Ireland basis in terms of health, education, spatial development, housing, infrastructural development and justice

Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP):

  • Support Irish unity
  • SDLP’s New Ireland Commission will seek to engage with people across the island about the future

Ulster Unionist Party (UUP):

  • Northern Ireland should remain in the UK

Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV):

  • Northern Ireland should remain part of the UK

Alliance Party: 

  • Prioritise a shared and united community
  • Continue to be defined by distinct vision and values rather than by the constitutional question
  • Support principle of consent via the Good Friday Agreement

Green Party:

  • The Green Party say that border poll policies will be added as they are announced

People Before Profit (PBP):

  • PBP says it supports a border poll as a basic democratic demand
  • Use a referendum campaign to fight for a radical, reunified Ireland based on progressive socialist politics
  • A new, radical constitution which enshrines equal rights for all

 

HOW DOES VOTING WORK?

Northern Ireland uses a single transferable vote (STV) system and the electorate can vote for as many or as few candidates as they want in order of preference. Once counting starts, a quota is established for the amount of votes a candidate needs in order to get elected.

All first preference votes are counted first, and any candidates who meet the quota are elected. Meanwhile, the candidate who receives the least votes is knocked out and their votes are then transferred to the candidates based on preferences given to them by voters. This process continues until either five candidates meet the quota or there are only five candidates remaining in that constituency.

WHEN WILL WE FIND OUT THE RESULTS?

Counting begins at 09:00 GMT on Friday, 6 May and the final results could be known by the end of that day. It is however possible that counting will pause overnight and resume again on Saturday morning, with final results likely to be announced by Saturday afternoon. Once the new assembly is elected, it has to meet within 8 days and will be asked to nominate a First and Deputy First Minister.

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