Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill has made history by being appointed Northern Ireland’s first nationalist first minister.
A power-sharing government has returned as politicians gathered at Stormont to appoint a series of ministers to the devolved executive, two years after it collapsed over the UK government’s deal with the EU.
In her speech, which began in Irish, Ms O’Neill said: “Today opens the door to the future – a shared future.
“I am honoured to stand here as first minister.”
She said the public was “relying” on the members of Northern Ireland’s elected assembly, adding: “We must make power sharing work because collectively, we are charged with leading and delivering for all our people, for every community.”
Earlier, former Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Edwin Poots was chosen by members of the assembly as its new speaker.
His party had refused to participate in government at Stormont, arguing that post-Brexit arrangements effectively left a trade border in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
But the DUP, Northern Ireland’s largest unionist party, had signalled it was ready for the recall of the political institutions last month, after agreeing on a deal with the UK government on post-Brexit trade, which party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson says has removed the so-called Irish Sea trading border.
Ms O’Neill’s selection as first minister, made possible after she led Sinn Fein to victory in the 2022 Assembly elections, marks the first time the post has been held by a nationalist committed to seeing Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland united as one country.
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