Stormont deal: Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill new top NI ministers

Sinn Féin and the DUP have re-entered devolved government in Northern Ireland after three years of deadlock.DUP leader Arlene Foster has been appointed as Northern Ireland’s first minister, while Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill is deputy first minister.The two parties supported a deal to restore Stormont’s political institutions.Stormont’s power-sharing coalition, led by the DUP and Sinn Féin, collapsed in January 2017.
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Media captionArlene Foster says parties must work for everyoneMrs Foster said the politicians have “many differences”.”Michelle’s narrative of the past 40 years could not be more different to mine,” she said.”I’m not sure we will ever agree on much about the past, but we can agree there was too much suffering, and that we cannot allow society to drift backwards and allow division to grow.”She added that it was “time for Stormont to move forward”.
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Media captionMichelle O’Neill addresses the new NI AssemblyMichelle O’Neill said it was her “sincere wish that 2020 brings real change”.She also pledged to immediately resolve the pay parity row that has led to industrial strike action among health workers.”I see no contradiction in declaring and delivering on our firm commitment to power sharing with unionism in the Stormont Assembly while also initiating a mature and inclusive debate about new political arrangements which examine Ireland’s future beyond Brexit.”Similarly, there is no contradiction in unionism working the existing constitutional arrangements while taking its rightful place in the conversation about what a new Ireland would look like.”We can do this while maintaining our independent distinct political identities and working in the best interests of all of the people.”Saturday marks four years since Arlene Foster first became Northern Ireland’s first minister.She took over from Peter Robinson, who resigned.

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NI Assembly

All five main parties in Northern Ireland – the DUP, Sinn Féin, Alliance, SDLP and UUP – have joined the executive. MLAs – members of the legislative assembly – met at Stormont on Saturday.Their first item of business at Stormont on Saturday was to elect Sinn Féin’s Alex Maskey as the assembly’s new speaker.The DUP’s Christopher Stalford; UUP’s Roy Beggs and SDLP’s Patsy McGlone are his three deputies.

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