NICVA's New Year's Round Up

6 Jan 2020 Siobhan McAlister    Last updated: 7 Jan 2020

A new decade doesn’t necessarily mean a fresh start, as challenges from the past few years such as Brexit and the absence of government here remain outstanding.

Across the water in GB, however, is a renewed and strengthened Conservative government following their success in December’s General Election. The Conservatives achieved a landslide majority of 80 seats in the House of Commons - 43.6% of the vote and a net gain of 48 seats. The Labour Party had their worst result in almost a century, only managing to win 202 seats.

There were also some changes to the Northern Ireland representation in Westminster following #GE19. The SDLP reclaimed two of the seats that they had previously lost in 2017 in Foyle and South Belfast. The Alliance party gained a seat in the North Down that was previously held by Independent Lady Sylvia Hermon. Sinn Féin also won a seat from the DUP in North Belfast.

A full breakdown of the General Election results can be found here.

Stormont Talks

At the end of December 2019, talks to restore Stormont resumed following on from three years of political deadlock. The parties have until 13 January to reach an agreement or an Assembly Election could be called. Whilst it is reported that there has been agreement on some priorities for a future Executive, the Petition of Concern and an Irish Language Act still remain significant sticking points.

Brexit

Following the Conservatives success at the General Election, the UK is on track to leave the EU on 31 January 2020 followed by a transition period until the end of December 2020. During this period, the future EU-UK relationship will have to be worked out and formally agreed, which includes the trade deal between the EU and the UK. There is still uncertainty around a number of issues which will impact Northern Ireland, including issues of environmental protection, workers rights, cross border cooperation and EU funding streams post Brexit. This week, the SDLP, DUP & Alliance MPs have suggested amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill which would guarantee that NI businesses will have unfettered access to the rest of the UK.

Climate Emergency

The climate emergency was a defining issue of the year 2019 with youth protests, the Extinction Rebellion movement and a greater focus on the need for urgent action by governments around the world. Several local councils in Northern Ireland called Climate Emergencies in the past year, including Belfast City, North Down and Ards and Derry and Strabane Councils. In the past year NICVA has been focusing on the Sustainable Development Goals and how we can renew our commitment to the Goals. The end of last year also saw the publication of a consultation on NI’s first ever, 25-year Environment Strategy - with an extended deadline to 5 February 2020. In response to this, NICVA teamed up with the NI Environment Link to come up with a ‘Common Purpose’ statement from the the wider voluntary and community sector in response to this.  Find out more about it here.

 

The opinions, views or comments in this article do not necessarily reflect any views or policies of NICVA.
siobhan.mcalister@nicva.org's picture
by Siobhan McAlister

Policy Development Officer

[email protected]

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