30 Sept 2022

AE22: 'A defining moment for our politics' – Michelle O'Neill

The Sinn Féin leader spoke from the podium following her election.

AE22: 'A defining moment for our politics' – Michelle O'Neill

Michelle O'Neill and Mary Lou McDonald arrive in Magherafelt on Saturday.

The gauntlet of press, party colleagues and onlookers had already greeted a curry-chip-carrying photographer and DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson by the time the object of their affections arrived.

Sinn Féin leader Michelle O'Neill entered Magherafelt count centre to cheers from her supporters, who thronged around her biblically before she addressed them in her election speech.

“This is a very significant moment of change. It's a defining moment for our politics and for our people,” she said.

“Today ushers in a new era, which I believe presents us all with an opportunity to re-imagine relationships in this society on the basis of equality and social justice.

“Irrespective of religious, political or social backgrounds, my commitment is to make politics work, to work through partnership, not division.

“We will work with those who serve different political perspectives. We will work together, we will show respect and we expect respect to be shown.”

O'Neill – in line to take up the role of First Minister – told onlookers that there was 'space in this place' for everyone.

“I will provide leadership which is inclusive, promotes diversity, guarantees rights and equality for those who have been excluded, discriminated against or ignored in the past,” she said.

“We have all heard loud and clear that people demand co-operation and delivery. They demand we address the cost-of-living crisis, that we invest in our health service.

“The welfare of all people comes first, and that's the reason why on Monday, we must all turn up together.

“There is an urgency to restore an Executive, to start putting money back in people's pockets, to fix the health service. The people can't wait.

“I will lead my team to Stormont on Monday. People have told us throughout this election that they expect us to work together.

“The people are right,” she added.

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