Northern Ireland

Funding, flags and planning a poll: McDonald sets her sights on a United Ireland referendum

Sinn Féin president called on the government to ‘clear democratic space’ for a poll on a United Ireland

Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Féin president and Michelle O’Neill, the party’s vice president who was appointed First Minister of Northern Ireland on Saturday. Picture: Getty

The Irish government must now “clear democratic space” for a referendum on a United Ireland, Mary Lou McDonald has said, as she hailed Saturday’s historic sitting of the Stormont Assembly as a “moment of great joy for Republicans”.

The Sinn Féin leader was speaking after the restoration of the Northern Irish executive and as Michelle O’Neill, her party’s vice president, has become the first-ever nationalist to assume the post of First Minister.

Both O’Neill and McDonald have welcomed the return of the Assembly after two years of political deadlock and restated their position that a poll on a United Ireland is possible by the end of the decade.