Northern Ireland news

Mary Lou McDonald insists there'll be no change to Stormont's first minister title

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald

SINN Féin will not change the titles of Stormont's first and deputy first minister if it comes out on top in the forthcoming assembly election, Mary Lou McDonald has said.

Ms McDonald said Sinn Féin did not support a change to the titles for the joint office at the head of the Northern Ireland Executive to better reflect the equality between the first and deputy first minister.

Recent opinion polling has fuelled speculation that Sinn Féin could achieve a historic victory in May 5's Stormont election, with former deputy first minister Michelle O'Neill claiming the title of first minister.

It would be the first time Sinn Féin, or any nationalist, has held the role.

In 2015, the then Sinn Féin deputy first minister Martin McGuinness suggested that the title could change to "joint office of first minister".

But in an interview with the BBC on Thursday, the Sinn Féin leader indicated that such an idea was no longer on the table.

"Martin didn't get a very positive response to his proposal at the time," Ms McDonald said.

"I would like to see proof positive that everyone involved is up for power-sharing."

Asked whether the idea of a "joint office" title could help encourage the DUP and other unionists to return to the executive after the election, Ms McDonald said: "What I will do what and I have consistently said to unionist colleagues is that we need to demonstrate that what we have will actually be implemented."

"I am not proposing that we change the job title," she said during the interview.

The Dublin TD said that the "objective position" of her party was ensuring that what has been agreed between the north's parties is implemented.

She said that she had no objection to anyone reflecting the joint nature of the office. But she said that for around 20 years, Sinn Féin had served in that joint office.

"Can political unionism, and can the DUP actually similarly serve and that's a democratic test for them and one I hope they win," she said.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news