Four years after Britain officially left the E.U., the U.K. government on Wednesday published the details of a deal to restore the power-sharing government in Belfast.
Almost two years of political gridlock. Decision-making paralyzed. Rising tension in a place where peace remains fragile even after the end of decades of sectarian strife.
There are few places where the impact of Britain’s exit from the European Union been felt more sharply than in Northern Ireland.
But on Wednesday there were rising hopes that one of Brexit’s most poisoned legacies has been eased — at least for now — by a new plan that should bring the territory’s political parties back into government.
In a dry, 76-page document published on Wednesday — coincidentally the four-year anniversary of Brexit coming into effect — the British government laid out the details of the deal it has struck with the Democratic Unionist Party, or D.U.P., to end its boycott of the power-sharing assembly in Belfast.
Crucially, the government said it would reduce checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from Britain, addressing the biggest source of tension within the D.U.P., whose mainly Protestant supporters want to remain part of the United Kingdom.
Unionists had argued that the post-Brexit imposition of customs checks on goods arriving by sea from Britain had driven a wedge between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K.