Northern Ireland has finally resolved a two-year impasse, paving the way for a new government to reignite an age-old conflict. On the first Saturday of February, Michelle O’Neill from the nationalist Sinn Féin party was named the new head of government in Northern Ireland. Sinn Féin advocates for the reunification of Ireland and is a party that once served as the political arm of the terrorist group IRA. Although Sinn Féin received the most votes in the May 2022 election, they failed to form a government. The legislation requires the Northern Ireland Executive to consist of members from nationalist and unionist parties. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) received the second most votes in the 2022 election but refused to form a government and boycotted the National Assembly for two years due to opposition to post-Brexit trade rules.
The impasse was finally broken with an agreement that led to a transfer of £3 billion pounds from the British government to public services in Northern Ireland. With O’Neill leading the new government, a nationalist holds the top position in Northern Irish Executive for the first time since Ireland’s partition in 1921. A recent CNBC report brought attention to O’Neill’s family background, which reflects her connection with Sinn Féin and IRA, with her father having been a member of IRA and later becoming a councilor for Sinn Féin. Her cousin, who was also a member of IRA, was killed by UK’s Special Air Service (SAS) in 1991.
McDonald stated that he believes that a referendum on Ireland’s reunification should be held within ten years and expressed his passionate belief that it is best outcome for economy, society, and politics as well as it would have an important role in global community. However, both British government and unionists allies are not happy about this idea as they believe that focus should be on day-to-day issues rather than constitutional issues