General election result and Northern Ireland talks

UNISON Northern Ireland issues statement as Conservative Party seeks agreement with Democratic Unionist Party on supporting a minority government after general election result

UNISON Northern Ireland has issued the following statement in light of talks between the Tories and the DUP on supporting a minority Conservative government after the party lost its majority in the 8 June general election.


Despite the fact that we viewed the snap election as a cynical power-grab by Theresa May, UNISON Northern Ireland identified three key areas and encouraged our members to test the candidates against the union’s priorities.

Those three areas were:

  • EU exit and protection of the people of Northern Ireland;
  • a genuine commitment to equality and human rights for all;
  • commitment to invest in public services.
  • Our members recognised that all the other priority issues affecting their daily lives require the restoration of devolution.

Following the general election, the prospects of agreement to restore devolution are even more uncertain when, in what looks like a desperate move of self-preservation, the prime minister has invited one party to the Stormont negotiations to have considerable influence over the future of her government.

Many will be concerned that such an arrangement could negatively impact on equality and human rights, such as women’s rights, worker’s rights, marriage equality and the delivery of a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland.

Negotiations on exiting the EU are days away with no body to speak collectively on behalf of the people of Northern Ireland and secure the agreements needed to protect not only our particular circumstances, but our peace process itself.

We assume the DUP will seek to secure a better fiscal arrangement for our public services.

Should they succeed, it cannot come at the price of more regression on the core equality and human rights commitments or the principle of genuine power-sharing through devolved government within the peace agreement.

As a co-guarantor of the peace agreement, the UK government is in danger of breaching its obligations and opening itself up to allegations of partiality, at the very time when it should be ensuring a level playing field on which all our parties can come together to restore devolution.

Patricia McKeown

regional secretary

UNISON Northern Ireland