The long-standing conflict in Northern Ireland has finally come to an end, with the region now able to move forward with a new government led by Michelle O’Neill of Sinn Féin. Sinn Féin, which advocates for the reunification of Ireland, received the most votes in the May 2022 election but fell short of forming a government. However, an agreement was finally reached that allowed for the transfer of £3 billion from the British government to public services in Northern Ireland.
With O’Neill at the helm, Sinn Féin holds the top position in the Northern Irish Executive for the first time since Ireland’s partition in 1921. O’Neill’s family background is deeply connected to Sinn Féin and the IRA, with her father having been a member and later becoming a councilor for the party. A cousin who was also a member of the IRA was killed by Britain’s Special Air Service (SAS) in 1991.
While some are excited about the possibility of a referendum on reunification within ten years as promised by Arlene McDonald, others are less enthusiastic about this prospect. The British government and unionist allies of the new Northern Ireland Executive believe that focus should be on day-to-day issues rather than constitutional issues. Despite this disagreement, many hope that O’Neill will be able to lead Northern Ireland towards peace and prosperity for all its citizens.