Northern Ireland's Sinn Fein hands reins to new generation

Jan 24, 2017, 00:24
Northern Ireland's Sinn Fein hands reins to new generation

Michelle O'Neill has been chosen to replace Martin McGuinness as Sinn Féin's new leader of the north.

Michelle O'Neill will be a candidate to replace Martin McGuinness as deputy first minister after elections on March 2, following his decision to quit politics for health reasons.

Mr McGuinness resigned as Northern Ireland's deputy first minister earlier this month over the handling of the controversial "cash for ash" scheme, which meant power-sharing ended and an election was called.

Sinn Fein's ard comhairle agreed at a meeting yesterday...

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said Ms O'Neill represented a "new generation" for the party.

The 40-year-old Mid Ulster Assembly member takes over as the republican party's figurehead north of the Irish border weeks before a snap Assembly election. Her father, a former Sinn Fein councillor, was jailed during the conflict.

However referring to Martin McGuinness' statement that there could be no return to the status quo at Stormont, she added, "There is an opportunity for an absolute step change and fix something that is wrong".

Ms O'Neill described it as the biggest honour and privilege of her life.

"I, and my Government colleagues, have worked closely and constructively with Michelle in the North South Ministerial Council both during her time as Minister for Agriculture and more recently as Minister for Health".

She told the party faithful at Parliament Buildings, Stormont: 'I won't let you down'.

"I have never been afraid of challenge, and I have never been afraid to act", she said. She will now assume the role of party leader. "I believe we share the same determination to advance peace and stability in Northern Ireland for the benefit of all its people".

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