IAUC, Brehons, Hail North Vote

The Irish American Unity Conference and the Brehon Law Society have both welcomed the outcome of last week's Northern Ireland Assembly election.

The IAUC, in a statement, said it hails the election results of May 5.

Said the statement: "The people of the North have voted decisively for Nationalist and centrist parties, which will make Sinn Fein the largest political party. It is widely understood that Sinn Fein leader Michelle O’Neill will thus be elevated to the top government position of First Minister and become the first Nationalist in history to hold that office.

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"The Alliance Party, a moderate neutralist party under the leadership of Naomi Long, has surged significantly and is closing fast on the reactionary, far right Democratic Unionist Party, which has fallen dramatically from its previous hold of 28 seats.

"Northern Irish voters have delivered a loud and clear message to the DUP: we reject your politics of division, rancor, and negativity. Now the DUP will be tested on whether it believes in democracy. In February, the DUP pulled its First Minister out of the Executive, intentionally collapsing the institution, ostensibly in protest over the Northern Ireland Protocol, which the DUP had helped draft and strongly supported. In a threat to the democratic institutions, the DUP has refused to commit to re-entering government with Ms. O’Neill as First Minister.

"If it does not agree to share power with the North’s most popular party, the DUP will underscore it’s standing as a retrograde, anti-democratic party.

"The dismal showing by the DUP is an unmistakable referendum rejecting its obsessive, ill-conceived fixation on the Northern Ireland Protocol. All opinion polls leading up to the elections confirmed that the Protocol was far down on the list of priorities for most people. Cost of living, health, education, and housing are the main issues, and Sinn Fein’s strong showing affirms that it is in touch with real life concerns affecting people every day in the North.

"This election marks the second time in two weeks that European voters have soundly rejected the nativist, divisive vision of a far-right party. Emmanual Macron’s thumping of Marine le Pen was a statement victory for those who believe in an inclusive, economically-integrated Europe. Similarly, Northern Ireland’s electorate has rejected the scare tactics of the DUP in favor of commitments to inclusivity and economic success for all.

"The DUP’s strong advocacy of Brexit, and their reactionary, imperialist opposition to minority rights, marriage equality, reproductive rights, the Irish language, and other social issues is out of step with the forward-looking aspirations of a majority of Northern Irish voters.

"The seismic changes that the Northern Ireland election brings cannot be over-stated. While in practice, due to power-sharing provisions of the Good Friday Agreement, the impact on governing will be minor, the psychological impact on both the nationalist and unionist communities will be transformative. Northern Ireland is forging a new chapter, led by an Irish Nationalist Catholic woman. The IAUC welcomes this outcome and heartily congratulates the enlightened people of Northern Ireland.

Separately, the Brehon Law Society in New York sees history in the outcome of the election.

Said the Brehons in a statement: "Last week’s elections in Northern Ireland saw Sinn Féin, a political party committed to the reunification of Ireland, win the most votes and gain the largest amount of seats of any party in the Northern Ireland assembly.

"This must be viewed in the historical context that many people may not know. That is that the political borders of the state of Northern Ireland were created to ensure a permanent British unionist majority. While the votes do not create a majority for the parties in favor of reunification, the votes certainly show that the days of unionist domination are over.

"More immediately, the votes are a clear signal that the people of Northern Ireland are in favor of equality, solutions to the health care and housing issues, and the Northern Ireland Brexit Protocol. Therefore, the majority of people have no problem with Irish Gaelic language rights, integrated education, and other cross community initiatives.

"The Brehon Law Society of New York celebrates a vote that shows this progress and we congratulate Michelle O’Neill and Sinn Féin on this historic election result. And we also note that 36% of the newly elected Members are now female, a percentage that continues to increase with each election.

"The question in Belfast now is whether unionists are going to accept the democratic vote of the people of Northern Ireland to get the executive in Stormont back up and running with Michelle O’Neill as First Minister. Or, are they going to try sabotage democracy now that they don’t own it?"