O'Neill hails Sinn Fein election results as 'new era'
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The republican party won 27 of the 90 seats up for grabs in Stormont making them both the largest party in the parliament, as well as seeing an Irish Nationalist political group lead Northern Ireland for the first time. The DUP won 25 seats, down three from previous elections, but have announced they will not enter into a power-sharing agreement as stipulated by the Good Friday Agreement until the Northern Ireland Protocol is resolved.
Sinn Fein’s Deputy Leader Michelle O’Neill, who is set to become Northern Ireland’s First Minister has stated she will be at Stormont on Monday ready to form an executive.
Ms O’Neill said “other parties” need to be ready to form an executive and there should be “no excuses” or “timewasting.”
Sinn Fein has also hinted at the notion of holding a referendum to reunite Northern Ireland with the Republic, potentially seeing the break-up of the United Kingdom in the process.
For Boris Johnson, the news of Sinn Fein’s victory will come as a headache as ongoing tension in Loyalist communities over the Protocol could still risk spilling over into conflict and violence.
Already, Loyalist groups have warned they would be prepared to enter “guerrilla” warfare tactics to end the notion of becoming alienated from Britain due to the Protocol.
Talks between the UK Government and the European Union have remained stagnant for months as neither party appears to be able to agree on a balanced medium.
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Williams last week hinted the UK could give in and agree on a deal to suit the European Union, hence putting further pressure on the Prime Minister who promised to deliver Brexit.
The EU has long held a strong and unmoveable stance in its negotiating mandate with the UK over the rules surrounding Northern Ireland.
Chief EU negotiator Maros Sefcovic is said to have informed Foreign Secretary Liz Truss he did not believe the EU would ever go beyond its existing stance on the post-Brexit arrangements.
The UK Government has repeatedly threatened to axe the protocol, agreed by Mr Johnson as part of the divorce deal unless solutions can be found.
However, in spite of the veiled threats, Mr Johnson has yet to trigger the clause to leave the deal known as Article 16.
Northern Ireland has been without a power-sharing executive for several months after the DUP collapsed the institutions as part of its protest against the Northern Ireland Protocol – part of the Brexit deal.
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said he would be meeting party leaders over the coming days and would urge them to restore the Stormont institutions, starting with the nomination of an assembly speaker within eight days.
He said: “I encourage the parties to form an executive as soon as possible.
“The people of Northern Ireland deserve a stable and accountable local government that delivers on the issues that matter most to them.”
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For Sinn Fein, the victory has seen the party call for “real change” and has labelled the win as a “defining moment for our politics and our people.”
Ms O’Neill, speaking after the results were confirmed said: “Today ushers in a new era which I believe presents us all with an opportunity to reimagine relationships in this society on the basis of fairness, on the basis of equality and on the basis of social justice.
“My commitment is to work through partnership, not division.
“We will work with those who serve all other political perspectives, we will show respect and we expect to be shown respect.”
Will Sinn Fein’s win spell the break-up of the United Kingdom? Why is the DUP refusing to move on and accept a power-sharing deal? Should a reunification referendum be held sooner rather than later? Let us know what you think by CLICKING HERE and joining the discussion in our comments section below – Every Voice Matters!
Speaking from the Republic of Ireland, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said a new power-sharing executive was “vital for progress and prosperity for all in Northern Ireland”.
He added: “It is now incumbent on all political parties and elected representatives to deliver on their mandate, through the nomination of a first and deputy first minister and the formation of a new executive to serve the interests of all of the people of Northern Ireland.”
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