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Michelle O'Neill appointed First Minister of Northern Ireland

On 3 February, Michelle O'Neill, the former deputy first monster and vice-president of Sinn Féin, the Northern Ireland Republican Nationalist party, was appointed as the First Minister at Stormont during the Irish National Assembly, making it a historic moment since a governmental collapse in February 2022. Companying O'Neill is a Democratic Unionist, with Emma Little-Pengelly as her deputy. The pair will be "codependent", holding "equal powers and each unable to function without the other." Such a result was described as a "political earthquake", potentially resulting in many struggling to cope with the new political landscape. 


Despite being a nationalist, O'Neill played down the issue of 'unification' and stressed solidarity for all. She stated, "As an Irish republican, I pledge cooperation and genuine honest effort with those colleagues who are British, of a unionist tradition, and who cherish the Union," O'Neill said. "This is an assembly for all — Catholic, Protestant and dissent." 


A governance gap since 2022 

In February 2022, the Northern Irish executive collapsed due to the governing party, the Democratic Unionist Party's boycott against the post-Brexit trading arrangement of goods, which demanded checks and restrictions on British goods being delivered to NI. The DUP argued that such trading arrangements would "drive a wedge between NI and the rest of the UK." 


The DUP's decision to abandon the parliament has left the civil service in limbo without guidance to mitigate the society. Moreover, people were in dire situations due to the cost-of-living crisis, low income and stagnant legislation. 


With the passage of legislation confirmed on Thursday, that there will be no checks and restrictions on British goods to NI, the DUP leader, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, finally decided to end the boycott and restore the Northern Ireland Assembly. On Thursday, Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris commented, "I look forward to working with the new first minister, deputy first minister, and all the ministers in a returned Northern Ireland Executive, alongside Northern Ireland assembly members, to improve the lives of people living here."


Edited By: Josh Reidelbach

Photo: BBC

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