Northern Ireland news


Mary Lou McDonald attacks opposition to Sinn Féin first minister

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald with deputy first minister Michelle O'Neill. Picture by Hugh Russell
Seamus McKinney

SINN Féin president Mary Lou McDonald has attacked unionist opposition to her party taking the position of first minister after May's assembly elections.

Ms McDonald said should Sinn Féin emerge as the largest party, it would be nominating Michelle O’Neill as first minister.

In an online speech marking the fifth anniversary of former deputy first minister Martin McGuinness’s death, Ms McDonald accused the DUP of only accepting democracy on their own terms.

Mr McGuinness (66) died from amyloidosis, a rare incurable illness, on March 21 2017 just months after stepping down amid the Renewable Heat Incentive row.

Former deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness died from a rare incurable illness on March 21 2017.

Addressing the DUP’s failure to state if it would nominate a deputy first minister if Sinn Féin became the largest party, Ms McDonald said Mr McGuinness challenged unionists to embrace equality.

"Political unionism failed to rise to that challenge. It is a reality that shapes the assembly election we now approach. The DUP refuses to catch up with a generation that is determined to move on together. Their entire approach to this election is driven by their belief that the office of first minister is not open to republicans," she said.

"It is a belief that exposes the leadership of the DUP – that they will only accept democracy if it is democracy on their terms.”

Ms McDonald claimed the DUP only accepted power-sharing if it conformed to its “blueprint of unionist dominance and the vetoing of progress”.

"Those days are over. They are not coming back. If Sinn Féin emerges as the largest party, we will nominate Michelle O’Neill as first minister and she will be a first minister to all," she added.

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