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  • Writer's pictureGreg O'Loughlin

First Minister Elect Michelle O'Neill Delivers the Home Truth

Speaking to a packed hall in Belfast Thursday night, First Minister Elect Michelle O’Neill said,

"Today marks 36 days since the Assembly election was held where the people voted in huge numbers giving the parties a mandate to restore the Assembly, form a government, and get down to business.

"The democratic outcome of the election must be respected. Not for a single day longer is it excusable for the DUP to continue their boycott of the Assembly, Executive, and North/South Ministerial Council.

"Here’s the home truth.

"Boris Johnson has made complete hames of things as British Prime Minister from he went in the door of 10 Downing Street until he’s pushed out it again.

"Our interests are certainly not his interests or that of the Tories.

"By ‘our interests’ I mean all of the people here, our local political democracy, our peace process, our progress and the transformation of the island over the past quarter of century. They’ve no concern for our future – our shared future.

"Boris Johnson’s sole interests are holding onto power, and serving the sectional interests of a London elite.

"The DUP have saddled up to the Tories before, and of course they will never learn.

"What’s at play is that Boris Johnson wants to clutch onto power for as long as he can get away with it. The DUP and a faction of the Tories with whom they’re aligned want to squeeze from him what they can, while they can, on the Brexit Protocol – a Protocol which is necessary and a direct result of the hard Brexit the DUP and Tories championed.

"The majority of MLAs returned on the 5th May support the Protocol because it is working. Yes it can work better – but only through joint EU/BG solutions is that possible.

"Our economy is now outperforming England which is evidenced by the British government’s own economic data, local businesses and producers are flourishing and filling gaps in the market and and All-Ireland supply chain which is sustaining jobs, and creating new employment.

"We know that the Protocol is a proxy for political unionism to undermine the Good Friday Agreement because their perpetual veto is gone, because the balance of power has irreversibly shifted.

"Boris Johnson and Brandon Lewis are giving the DUP cover and let’s be clear – the political stability of the North cannot be a hostage to the Tory-in fighting, Westminster chaos and continued DUP disruption.

"This week I heard unionist leaders, and others talk about the coming weeks being a ‘long hot summer’ in the context of anti-protocol protest.

"As political leaders we must stand united appealing to all those concerned to stop engaging in such violence and refrain from further threats of violence.

"The type of futile security threats we saw in North Belfast will not deter any of us.

"We can solve our problems and concerns only through democratic politics and the PSNI must be proactive in dealing with these incidents which are being driven by loyalist paramilitaries.

"The minority trying to draw us back will not win.

"To move forward also means dealing with the past, and the British Government abandonment of the Stormont House Agreement and their introduction of amnesty legislation amounts to a judicial blackout with the denial of truth and justice for scores of families impacted being characterised by the Human Rights Commission as “fatally flawed”.

"We will stand with all victims and survivors of the conflict and continue to campaign for their right to truth and justice.

"We were glad to welcome and meet the US Congressional delegation to Dublin and Belfast in recent weeks who made clear their absolute support for the GFA and restoration of its political institutions, and applaud their continuous efforts and contribution as a key partner for Ireland and for peace.

"If those elected to serve fail to restore the democratic institutions then it is not a case of Direct Rule from London on the cards, but Joint Authority from Dublin and London.

"And if the people decide, Sinn Féin hopes to lead that government from Dublin.

"Friends, the political landscape is rapidly changing, and the change that is afoot may ebb and flow but it will not stop, and so our task as the national Sinn Féin movement is to shape and lead that change, with others, and bring about the societal change, that the vast majority of people impatiently want in order to improve their lives and give a new generation the opportunities partition is denying us today, and everyday until it’s history."

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