Statement by Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD, speaking from Belfast on the resumption of the north's power-sharing institutions, has said that Sinn Féin welcome the significant steps forward that have been made to re-establish the institutions on the basis of equality, respect and integrity.
Teachta McDonald said:
"I want to welcome the fact that the Assembly has met today following yesterday's historic decision by the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle to re-enter the north's power-sharing institutions.
"This has been long and oftentimes frustrating process, but we have arrived at a situation where significant progress has been made in respect of the delivery of citizens rights - including a wide-ranging Irish Language Act - legacy issues, reform of the political institutions, strategies to tackle poverty and sectarianism, wide-ranging reforms to public services, as well as major infrastructural investment.
"This is a historic day, but the real work starts now.
"The first items on the agenda of the Executive have to be to address issues facing the health service and to deliver pay parity for health workers, as well as to begin implementation of Irish language legislation.
"Our team of Ministers that will drive forward delivery of what has been agreed in the Executive are:
- deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill MLA
- Minister for Finance Conor Murphy MLA
- Minister for Communities Deirdre Hargey MLA
- Junior Minister in the Executive Office Declan Kearney MLA
"John O'Dowd MLA has been appointed as Chief Whip and Assembly group leader.
"I also want to sincerely congratulate Alex Maskey MLA on his election as Ceann Comhairle of the Assembly. Alex is one of Sinn Féin's longest serving public representatives and he will bring a great deal of experience and determination to the role.
"Notwithstanding that these members of our Assembly team have been tasked with specific responsibilities, it is the role of every Sinn Féin representative to work for the speedy implementation of what has been agreed and to work to move society forward. I have every confidence that our entire team will do that.
"There is no doubt there are serious challenges ahead for all of us, not least in combating the impacts of Tory austerity and the effects of Brexit, but Sinn Féin is about delivery and we are absolutely committed to making genuine power-sharing work.
"We will also continue to work tirelessly to deliver Irish reunification in the time ahead, to ensure that a referendum on Irish unity is delivered and that planning for Irish unity is advanced."