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Home News Sinn Fein leader vows ‘new era’ for Northern Ireland

Sinn Fein leader vows ‘new era’ for Northern Ireland

Published on 07/05/2022
Published from AFP.com

Sinn Fein leader Michelle O’Neill on Saturday said Northern Ireland was entering a “new era” as a historic election victory loomed for her nationalist party, urging a “healthy debate” about ending UK rule.

“Today ushers in a new era. It’s a defining moment for our politics and our people,” she told supporters and the media as full results were announced from her Mid Ulster constituency.

“I will provide leadership which is inclusive, which celebrates diversity, which guarantees rights and equality for those who have been excluded, discriminated against or ignored in the past,” she added.

O’Neill is on course to become Northern Ireland’s very first nationalist leader, with the main unionist party trailing after Thursday’s election for a new devolved assembly.

The Democratic Unionist Party is refusing to join a new government in Northern Ireland unless the UK rips up post-Brexit trading rules with the European Union.

“The people have spoken and our job is now to turn up. I expect others to turn up also,” O’Neill told reporters, stressing the new government must tackle foremost a cost-of-living crisis in the UK.

But she said a “healthy conversation is already underway” about Irish reunification, a century after Northern Ireland was carved out as a Protestant fiefdom under British rule.

“Let’s have a healthy debate about what our future looks like.”