Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill calls for 'new Assembly' to be formed in 2020
Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O'Neill has said that the party is working towards a new kind of politics and a new Assembly in 2020.
Mrs O'Neill made the comments while addressing party delegates at Sinn Fein's Ard Fheis in Londonderry's Millennium Forum.
The Stormont Assembly collapsed in January 2017 when the late deputy First Minsiter Martin McGuinness resigned in the wake of the RHI scandal.
Attempts to revive Stormont through power-sharing talks have remained fruitless. Sinn Fein claim an agreement was reached in February 2018, before the DUP walked away over an Irish Language Act.
Irish language provision remains one of the key issues preventing the return of Northern Ireland's devolved institutions.
Mrs O'Neill said that Sinn Fein remained committed to the Good Friday Agreement which enshrined the commitment to a border poll.
"It cannot be cherry-picked," the Mid Ulster MLA said.
She told delegates that the political impasse was "unsustainable and unacceptable" and that any new Executive must "deliver on issues such as public sector pay, safe staffing levels in the health service, economic policies that deliver prosperity for all and that invests in rural communities, and an appropriate welfare mitigation package."
Mrs O'Neill said that all outstanding issues must be dealt with including an Irish Language Act, reform of the petition of concern mechanism and legacy issues.
“The British Government’s refusal to deal properly with legacy issues is hindering reconciliation and wider political progress," the Sinn Fein vice president said.
She said that the "delivery of rights cannot be avoided".
Mrs O'Neill welcomed the introduction of same-sex marriage and new abortion legislation for Northern Ireland.
“At the start of the incoming year, after years of campaigning, same sex couples will be able to marry the one they love," she said.
“The injustice of women being criminalised has ended. There is now a consultation underway which Sinn Fein will help shape, to provide access to compassionate health care for all women."
The Mid Ulster MLA also welcomed that "after years of waiting the Historical Institutional abuse victims can see some light in their journey for redress".
“We should be legislating for these issues in the Assembly. I stand ready to form a credible executive," Mrs O'Neill said.
“A new Assembly and a new kind of politics in the New Year is what I am working towards.”
Belfast Telegraph Digital