Sinn Féin Chairwoman Mary Lou McDonald said it was “unacceptable” that the DUP refused to work with Michelle O’Neill and “stand on the sidelines.”
s McDonald said it was “very important” that the DUP party “demonstrate respect and inclusion by agreeing to serve in this joint office with a Republican first minister.”
She said the general election results were a “great moment for equality” in Northern Ireland.
“It is fair to say that the election highlights the depth and scale of change in Northern Ireland. I find it very significant that for the first time a nationalist party has the largest share of the vote,” she said.
“More importantly, we now have in Michelle O’Neill the first Nationalist-Republican progressive person to potentially lead the executive branch and hold the office of First Secretary.
“The history of the north of Ireland is such that it was constructed and arranged in the exact way that a Michelle O’Neill would ever hold the office of First Minister, so I think it’s a great sign of change and a great statement of equality There is no office in Northern Ireland that no one can be excluded from.”
While Ms O’Neill is set to become Stormont’s next First Minister, DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson warned his party would not enter government and potentially make her First Minister unless there were changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Ms McDonald said it was “essential” for the DUP leader to share the offices of First and Deputy First Minister with Ms O’Neill.
“I think it’s more serious, it says that the DUP, a section of political unionism, is only interested in the democratic process when they’re at the top,” she told Newstalks On The Record With Gavan Reilly.
“I just can’t stress enough how important it is to the DUP that Chairman Jeffrey Donaldson is now making it crystal clear that they will in fact share the posts of First Secretary and Deputy First Secretary with Michelle O’Neill.
“It is at the very heart of the project, not just peace-building, but policy development in Northern Ireland. It is clearly unacceptable that the DUP refuses to work with Michelle O’Neill just because this is the first time we have a Republican First Secretary.”
Ms McDonald said she believes the DUP will face “public hostility” if it delays the formation of an executive.
“They will fail everyone, including those who voted for them, if they refuse to go back to work with the rest of us tomorrow. We’re in a livelihood crisis, we have £330m that the executive couldn’t distribute and put back in people’s pockets because we didn’t have an executive,” she said.
“I think anyone the DUP or anyone else that suggests for a second that they’re going to stand on the sidelines and watch people fight on, that they’re going to insist on another delay to put that money in people’s pockets is just totally unacceptable and I think will meet with very broad public hostility.”
Ms McDonald said “people will suffer” if the DUP chooses to prioritize border controls over the cost of living.
“They can make that choice, but the consequence of that is that their political stance means that people in all societies are going to suffer, and to me that’s a terrible prospect and unacceptable,” she said.
“The reality is that the difficulties that the DUP perceives with the protocol can only be resolved through a process of engagement and good faith dialogue between the government in London and the European institutions.
“Keeping down the executive branch in Belfast will not change protocol one iota. And Jeffrey Donaldson knows that, the DUP knows that there is a special committee set up to deal with issues surrounding the protocol, none of which is insurmountable.”
“It’s all a consequence of Brexit so I don’t accept any of those alibis and let me reiterate that it’s not acceptable when people are fighting for the DUP to play games like this and they’ve led themselves to an impasse the bag.”
https://www.independent.ie/news/its-clearly-not-acceptable-for-the-dup-to-refuse-to-serve-with-michelle-oneill-says-mary-lou-mcdonald-41627791.html “It is clearly unacceptable that the DUP refuses to work with Michelle O’Neill,” says Mary Lou McDonald