Advertisement
SF Ard Fheis

O’Neill tells party NI unionist majority is 'long gone’, says McDonald will be first female Taoiseach

The Sinn Féin Ard Fheis is taking place in Athlone this weekend.

SINN FÉIN VICE President Michelle O’Neill has told the party’s annual Ard Fheis conference that “the old Orange State” with a unionist majority is “long gone”.

In her keynote speech this evening, O’Neill said the results of May’s assembly elections must be “respected” as she called for the restoration of power sharing in Northern Ireland.

Speaking at the Technological University of the Shannon campus in Athlone, Co Westmeath, she said: “The nationalist community in the north, historically marginalised and discriminated against, has achieved what was once thought impossible.

The Sinn Fein vice president said: “The old Orange State with its entrenched unionist majority is now long gone.

“It is a thing of the past.”

embedded274523725 Mary Lou McDonald at tonight's opening of her party's ard fheis in Athlone. PA PA

O’Neill said that as First Minister of Northern Ireland she would aim to represent the “whole community” with a commitment to inclusive governance.

She said she would “never treat others the way our communities were treated in the past”.

O’Neill said: “I am determined to continue to demonstrate my commitment to representing and showing respect to every section of our society.”

The party’s leader in Northern Ireland said there was a need to “get back on track” following the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

“It’s vital to recognise the urgency of the situation, with the democratic institutions of the Good Friday Agreement in a state of paralysis.”

“The DUP has had more than enough time to address their concerns regarding the Brexit Protocol. Public patience has run out. It is now time to see the assembly and executive restored.”

embedded274523403 Gerry Adams in attendance at the SF ard fheis in Athlone tonight. PA PA

She told the crowd this evening that the democratic outcome of last May’s assembly election must be respected.

“As a First Minister for All I will never treat others the way our communities were treated in the past. I am determined to continue to demonstrate my commitment to representing and showing respect to every section of our society,” she added. 

She said all political leaders must stretch themselves to seek common ground, adding that 25 years on from the Good Friday Agreement, so much has been achieved so much.

O’Neill told the party members tonight that Mary Lou McDonald will be the first woman Taoiseach leading the government in Dublin.

Ms McDonald was in attendance for the speech alongside other senior party representatives.