>> After a vitriolic campaign a snap election in Northern Ireland on Thursday that's likely just the starting shot for weeks of wrangling. Northern Ireland's government collapsed in January over a scandal about the abuse of subsidies. Republican Sinn Fein is expected to garner the most votes from nationalists who want a united Ireland.
The Democratic Unionist Party, the lion's share of pro-British votes, no change there. But the two must then try to form a power-sharing government, as per the 1998 agreement that ended three decades of violence known as The Troubles. As Reuters Conor Humphries reports, talks will likely drag on for more than three weeks, automatically triggering direct rule from Westminster.
>> That would be the first time that it happened in ten years. So it would be quite a big blow to the whole peace process. What you might see is some trouble on the streets. You might see some of the smaller splinter groups trying to, who are opposed to the 1998 peace deal, trying to take advantage.
>> Sinn Fein has drawn red lines, demanding legal rights for Irish speakers. And that Northern Ireland's Unionist first minister Arlene Foster step down. But the DUP says, no way. Direct rule could anger republicans especially, they want Northern Ireland's ties to London severed not deepened.>> In terms of the longer term impact, it depends on how long it is.
Is it just a couple of months to allow talks or are we talking about a year or two, three years? That could change the whole political dynamic in Northern Ireland. And with Brexit going on at the same time that very much puts us into unknown waters, so. There's a lot to play for.
It's unfolding quite slowly but the stakes are quite high.>> Britain hopes to start divorce proceedings from the European Union this month. With republicans and unionists opposed on that too, they could add fuel to the fire.