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  • AQA Component 1, Section Devolution: the roles, powers and responsibilities of the different devolved bodies in the UK; impact of devolution on government of the UK

  • Edexcel Component 2, Section 1.3: The role and powers of devolved bodies in the UK, and the impact of this devolution on the UK: Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive

Background: what you need to know

Almost two years ago, the Democratic Unionist Party withdrew from the devolved government in Belfast. This was in protest at the Northern Ireland protocol, which it regarded as treating the province differently from the rest of the UK in its trading relationship with the EU. The DUP objected to what it called the ‘border in the Irish Sea’ — checks on trade between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland.

Protracted negotiations with the UK government have reassured DUP leader, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, that this obstacle has now been removed, paving the way for the return of the executive in February. An important consequence is that the republican party, Sinn Féin, is entitled for the first time to nominate the first minister of Northern Ireland, since it emerged as the largest party in the May 2022 assembly elections.

Click the link below to read the article and then answer the questions:

N Ireland executive could return this weekend after DUP agrees landmark deal

Question in the style of AQA Politics Paper 1

  • ‘Devolution has created more problems than it has resolved within the UK.’ Analyse and evaluate this statement.

    In your answer you should draw on material from across the whole range of your course of study in Politics. [25 marks]

Question in the style of Edexcel Politics Paper 2

  • Evaluate the argument that devolution has proved to be an unsuccessful means of governing the UK.

    In your answer you should draw on relevant knowledge and understanding of the study of Component 1: UK politics and core political ideas. You must consider this view and the alternative to this view in a balanced way. [30 marks]

    TIP: The role of minor parties could be linked to these questions. The DUP has played an important part in UK politics before, notably in the 2017 ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement that kept Theresa May’s minority government afloat. Sinn Féin has traditionally refused to take up seats at Westminster since, as a separatist republican party, it does not recognise the legitimacy of the British Crown. But Sinn Féin now stands a chance of achieving a referendum on Irish unification in a few years’ time, potentially giving the party increased significance in UK politics.

Graham Goodlad, Portsmouth High School

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