Power-sharing returns to Stormont after Sinn Fein says it supports devolution deal

Posted On: 
10th January 2020

Power-sharing has returned to Northern Ireland for the first time in three years after Sinn Fein said will support a deal to restore devolution in the province.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald (left), deputy leader Michelle O'Neill (right) and party colleagues speak to the media in the Great Hall of Parliament Buildings, Stormont.
PA Images

Mary Lou McDonald, the party's leader, said it was time for all sides to "step up" to ensure the agreement forms the basis of a long-term political settlement.

DUP leader Arlene Foster, Northern Ireland's first minister, had earlier said that her party would sign up to the deal, which was agreed following negotiations between the UK and Irish government.

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The document contains promises of extra cash for the province and the creation of two “language commissioners” in a bid to remove barriers that have blocked previous attempts to revive the Stormont assembly.

It will also lead to major reforms to Northern Ireland health service, schools and justice system.

Ms McDonald said: "We have a basis to restore power sharing, we are up for that. There is no doubt there are serious challenges ahead – the impact of Brexit, austerity and a range of other issues.   

"The biggest and most significant challenge will be ensuring that we have genuine power sharing based on equality, respect and integrity.  

"I believe that the power sharing government can work. That requires everyone to step up. Sinn Féin’s commitment is to do all in our power to make this happen."

Arlene Foster said: "I know there will be challenges in the deal, not least we need to make sure we have the finances to be able to deal with all of the issues in Northern Ireland that are present at the moment, particularly in and around the health sector."

Welcoming the agreement, Prime Minister Prime Boris Johnson tweeted: "This is a great step forwards for the people of Northern Ireland and for restoring public confidence in stable devolved Government and delivering much needed reforms to public services."