Michelle O’Neill confirmed as Sinn Fein’s new leader in the North

Michelle O’Neill has been confirmed as the new Sinn Fein leader in the North. The selection was ratified by the party’s Ard Chomhairle.

In a crowded Long Gallery at Stormont, Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald thanked Martin McGuinness and confirmed Michelle O’Neill.

Martin McGuinness spoke warmly about his relationship with the Paisley family and thanked Ian Paisley Jnr for his remarks on The View on Thursday night, referring to the wider Paisley family as supporters of the Peace Process.

On discussions about leadership change, McGuinness said discussions had been going on for a year and that Michelle O’Neill had for years defended the peace process and was made of tough stuff. She could show great strength and compassion. Over the years, she had been consistently promoted, taking on tough portfolios such as Health.

In her first speech as Northern Leader, O’Neill said

When I was growing up in Tyrone as a teenager, if anyone had ever said that I would be leading our party in the North at some stage in the future I wouldn’t have believed them.

On the DUP she said;

Over the course of the last number of weeks, while others shouted from the sidelines it was Sinn Fein that stood up and confronted corruption. It was Sinn Fein that called a halt to the arrogance and the intolerance of the DUP.

On the no return to the status quo line;

Commitments must be delivered and it is the duty of both the Irish and British governments to fulfill their part.

We cannot allow the British government’s withdrawal from the European Union to undermine the Good Friday Agreement, the protections and safeguards within it or the principle of consent either.

The North being forced to leave the EU against the expressed wishes of our people who voted to remain represents a major set back.

On what mandate Sinn Fein are seeking;

Sinn Fein is seeking in this election a mandate to enter forthcoming political negotiations come March to defend your interests and put firmly the people’s social, economic and political interests first.

This is a time for active citizenship, for democratically and peacefully asserting our rights.

O’Neill has previously served as Minister for Agriculture and is the current Health Minister. Unusually for Sinn Fein ministers she was re-appointed to the Executive in May 2016.

She has been involved in elected politics for over a decade, serving as Mayor of Dungannon and an MLA for Mid-Ulster since 2007 where she was elected alongside her predecessor, Martin McGuinness.

O’Neill has the potential to really begin a new chapter in the development of Sinn Fein as a political party in Ireland. As the first female to head the Northern wing she will undoubtedly face comparisons with her counterpart, Mary Lou McDonald as analysts attempt to understand where the party is going after the Adams/McGuinness era.

Some real challenges confront her as she takes this position, such as the upcoming election with Nationalism going into this campaign following a record low turnout in May 2016. There will also be tough negotiations with the DUP and the British government following the election which will test the new leadership’s ability to stake out clear issues for reform and an agenda for a potential new Executive.

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  • MainlandUlsterman

    get real, few people meet senior politicians in person in any meaningful way, yet surely we are entitled to form opinions on them based on what we see, listen to and read about them. Not sure how you do your history if face to face meetings with the subject is a pre-requisite …

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “Get real”……Have you been out of the country so long as to be unaware of just how easy it is to meet virtually anyone in local politics, even if this requires being brokered? A lot can be gleaned that way from even a short conversation for anyone perceptive, and with an open mind.

    Yes, of course you are entitled to hold opinions simply gleaned from what you have encountered on the media, but naturally all such opinions must inevitably be called into question by any genuine familiarity with the person.

    We’ve had this other arguement before, about history, with you telling me that despite my actually having being present “when history was being made”, that others who are simply putting together their versions from mediated material were somehow more fully informed and more acccurate. I’ll leave other readers to come to their own conclusions on that.

    As, normally, an historian of early modern history the only direct resource open for me to interrogate a participant would be through a perhaps an unrelaible spirit-medium, but in my customary research I am always at some pains to refer to primary source material in order to qualify the distortions which creep inevitably into any secondary source material. I’ve also been privilidged to speak with, for example, veterans of the Great War, an experience which has qualified my understanding of many available textual sources. Certainly, with contemporaries, getting to actually know the people themselves before coming to dismissive conclusions appears to me always to be a rather better way to achieve a necessary accuracy.

  • Jollyraj

    You are wrong.

  • Skibo

    Wonderful answer. What is wrong and what is the truth?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    So you’re holding fire on Donald Trump then?

  • Jollyraj

    “What I believe you are implying, and you can correct me if I am wrong, is that MMcG was fully aware at all times of this whole scheme and all the intricacies and that put him under so much pressure that it exacerbated his health problem.”

    Wrong. I’m not saying that he knew exactly what was going on in precise detail. I’m not even saying he personally benefited from it or did anything legally wrong. What I am saying is that he can hardly have been blissfully unaware this massive financial timebomb ticking under the assembly – and if he was, what was the benefit of even having him in office if he was so incompetent as to not realise what was going on. Does all that apply to Foster, too? Yes.

    In either case, the stress cannot have helped him.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I certainly wasn’t at the inaguration of Don Trump, even though, as I’ve heard it, there were real problems getting “A” ans “B” listers to attend, and the invites were there for the taking. The last invite I have was to Jimmy Carter’s inauguration (genuine, by the way, family by marriage over the pond are active Democrats).

    Fact remains still, while you might have problems speaking to Teresa May unless you are invited to some private party which a friend of her holds, I’ve found there is very little to stop anyone from getting to meet with someone in office here socially, but that may simply be because I’m a nice, sociable person with family contacts across the political spectrum.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    But point was, no appraisals on Trump or May valid unless you’ve personally met them? Great to meet these people if you can (and I’ve been lucky enough to chat to a number of senior politicians past and present) but it does seem odd to make it a sine qua non of commenting on them.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Certainly, most of those who are authoratively commenting on either of them, or other politicians, usually take some trouble to get to know them and what they are thinking. You ask about the validity of an opinion formed from mediated material, but may I throw the core question I’d first suggseted back on you? While I recognise that you have every right to your personal opinion, how “informed” actually is that opinion? Your question broadly generalises the issues into some sort of spurious general validity issue while you are clearly ducking out on answering my pretty self-evident point that someone who has only encountered a person or event through layers and layers of mediation, either text ot film (which with my background I know to be just as crafted, just as mediated by the author’s intent, as text), can somehow claim to be just as authorative as someone who has taken the time and trouble to genuinely look into something through direct and personal contact? i doubt that anyone thinking about the matter seriously would even begin to entertain a suggsetion as absurd. Yes, you have your right to your opinion, but if your only source is a mediated version of things, it must inevitably lack the clear authority of the opinion of someone who is directly aware of what is going on through unmediated expereince. It’s a no brainer.

    I imagine you know a few feminists, perhaps, and have some points of reference on the matter, so even a few minutes talking to Michelle would have saved you the mortifying gaff of suggesting that she is somehow “unsound” on woman’s issues.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    My dear fellow, are you asking me to write you out a blank cheque for your views? How are you expecting med to assess the weight of an opinion simply on abstract principal. But all too often you evade any real detail and move to either abstractions or broad generalisations in your usual responses.

    Any opinion stands or falls on its actual content, and the more information a person may be assessing, the more chance they stand of coming to some meaningful appraisal. It is something of a truism that someone who takes the trouble to know the subject of their interest is going to have a more precise understanding of the person on many things than someone who encounters them only through the very mediated sources you appear to be relying on. You are being somewhat obtruse here, seemingly having some bizarre need to challenge this very clear and simple truth.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    You’re mistaking my focus on deconstructing your logic with a failure to engage. I’m interested in the argument, intellectually, and the detail only interests me if it’s relevant. Sorry but a lot of the detail you give, though interesting, often isn’t germane to the point being discussed. I do enjoy it but don’t expect those bits to get a response.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    MU, I fully understand. You approach everything argued through generalisations and principals, rather than through the kind of pragmatic practicalities which everything actually comes down to in the real world. I can now fully understand why you are able to support a Unionism which also usually interprets its position in broad generalities and has a long history of dismissing those actual details which either qualify or actively conflict with its positive self image. Of course you may select in turn what you consider relevent, but I’d still really like to know how someone who only encounters something through the public mediation will be able to understand things more fully than someone who has delved much more deeply into such things and met and spoken with the players.

    The real problem will always be that such a “principals” approach as you suggest relies on a catagorisation of information which itself has been organised from the kind of detailed expereince I’m recommending, and, dsepite the veneer of objectivity, is never going to be without some underlying agenda. There can be no absolute objectivity in the inevitable selectivity which informs any such system off catagory. But we are now back to the issue of post-modernism and its developments, and you have, as I read your earlier responses, already dismissed Foucault’s early work on the limitations of catagorisation, such as “Les mots et les choses: Une archéologie des sciences humaines”, whose fifty year old insights would suggest that your broad, almost nineteenth century rationalist approach in reducing things to broad generalisations must contend with the accusation that it is inevitably disgusing a perhaps unconscious power discoure, something almost surfacing openly here in your own implication that you alone decide what is relevent here and what is not!

    But please don’t stop, I’m enjoying it too, but don’t expect me to obediently engage on your set terms. The detail I’m offering as qualification of your generalisations always serves to bring the arguement closer to the inevitable messyness of reality.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Not my terms, Slugger’s.

    I know you’re one for the pomo spiel, but it does seem ironic that you cite that while portraying me as disappearing into generalities divorced from real life.

    I haven’t read much Foucault but I can recognise when someone’s using something they’ve read and the other person hasn’t to pretend they’ve got a deeply hidden killer point when actually they’re evading it. If you have a point about subjectivity, what is it?

  • Skibo

    Jollyraj, I clarified my comment with “I believe”, you did not so I have to assume you have some proof of your statement. Would you care to share it with us?
    Each ministry has to go through a substantial amount of information and have a department suited for that purpose. To expect the office of FMDFM to have that amount of detail is questionable.
    The one department that should have had a greater amount of information would be the Finance ministry. Unfortunately during the time of the overspend it was in the hands of the DUP. Do you remember who held it?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    ” I’m interested in the argument, intellectually, and the detail only interests me if it’s relevant.”

    Of course Slugger requires some attention to the point, but here you are personally defining what is relevant, are you not? You have frequently done so most selectively in answering me on many earlier threads, becoming customarily evasive when you are challenged on any significant links and details. I’ve pretty much unpacked my point about Foucault above already, with the all important issue of your using a designation of what you consider to be important, and what you don’t, as a method of evading issues. I’d recommended Foucault’s work as a corrective to your apparent belief that broad generalisations and an appeal to the “objectivity” of your opinions is the last word in arguement. As I’d pointed out (alongside Foucault) such things disguise a power discourse where the terms of discussion are weighed by one party to suggest that they alone define what is under discussion. Ho humm…..

    Primarlly here I’d called you on the truley bizarre suggestion that an experience constructed entirely from mediated impressions are somehow on completely equal terms with direct face to face experience, and rather than address this issue, you again shifted emphasis, almost “text book” for what I was drwaing attention to, over to generalities in order to evade any recognition that you are perhaps commenting above from a patently superficial take on poor Michelle.