The prospect of a decisive constitutional change in Northern Ireland looks remote after a Northern Ireland Assembly vote saw most of the region’s lawmakers back the disarmament of the IRA.
The development in the British province was strongly supported by Sinn Fein and devolved Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley, raising doubts about the future of major negotiations in London intended to achieve more power-sharing between the main political parties.
Negotiations at Stormont, the Northern Ireland parliament, “have now stalled completely and to break the impasse would require the vast majority of MLAs in favour of a border poll and a Yes vote in the second phase,” according to an assessment of the political situation released by political scientists at the University of Manchester.
The scene was set for talks on a decisive constitutional change when a motion of confidence to strengthen support for a step-by-step disarmament process was rejected by a bare majority, with only three Fine Gael legislators, Sinn Fein and the DUP, after months of contentious party compromises.
“There has been a massive pullback on the political journey from Northern Ireland to realising the power-sharing aspirations of the Good Friday Agreement,” said Professor Jay Guy, who co-authored the study.