Michelle O'Neill officially became on Saturday the first Republican, in favor of the unification of Ireland, to take the head of the Northern Irish government, a historic shift in the British province with a past marked by three decades of bloody conflict.
The 47-year-old leader of Northern Ireland's Sinn-Féin was appointed prime minister after the restart of the province's institutions, boycotted for two years by unionists to oppose post-Brexit trade arrangements which they denounced as a threat to the place of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom.
In front of the assembled elected officials At Stormont Palace, Ms O'Neill hailed a historic day, a new era and promised an assembly for all, stressing that it would have been unimaginable for [her] parents' generation that a nationalist heads the local executive.
Upon her arrival at Stormont, Sinn-Féin leader for the whole island of Ireland, Mary Lou McDonald, said the Northern Irish government could not be in better hands. It's a victory for everyone today, a demonstration that equality and inclusion are on the agenda, she added. p>
Under the co-governance resulting from the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, which ended three decades of bloody conflict, Michelle O'Neill will have at her side a Unionist Deputy Prime Minister, Emma Little-Pengelly.Loading
New heat strokes in the Saint-Laurent
ELSE ON INFO: New heat strokes in the Saint-Laurent
Sinn-Féin came first in the May 2022 elections, an unprecedented shift for this formation, which was once the political showcase of the IRA (Irish Republican Army), but the political impasse prevented Michelle O'Neill from #x27;access its functions.
Local government, competent in areas such as housing, health, employment, x27;agriculture and the environment, must be constituted. Current affairs had been managed by the administration and London for two years due to the blockage which caused exasperation among the population.
After months of negotiations with the British government, the unionists of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) announced their decision this week to end their boycott. This led to the paralysis of the Assembly and the local executive, where power is shared between the unionists – committed to maintaining Northern Ireland in the British fold – and the republicans.
Highlighting the difficult road ahead, DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson argued his party had delivered the change many described as impossible. He hailed a good day for Northern Ireland, where our place within the United Kingdom and its internal market is respected and protected.
An argument far from convincing the hardest unionists, like Jim Allister (TUV, Traditional Unionist Voice), for whom Northern Ireland remains governed largely by foreign laws, those of the #x27;EU.
In implementing Brexit, one of the main difficulties was finding a solution that avoids the return of #x27;a physical border between the Republic of Ireland, an EU member, and the British province, while protecting the integrity of the European single market.
A modification of these provisions negotiated between London and Brussels a year ago, called the Windsor framework and reducing controls on goods, was not enough to convince the DUP.
However, the Unionist Party led by Jeffrey Donaldson ended up accepting an agreement with the British government this week, believing that this text offers sufficient guarantees and that it removes the border in the Irish Sea which it denounced. A decision which, however, is not unanimous, even within his party.
The restart of Northern Irish institutions will also allow the release by London of an envelope of 3.3 billion pounds sterling (approximately 5.6 billion Canadian dollars) to support public services, which recently experienced a strike of historic proportions.