Sinn Féin returns to Stormont 3 years after government collapse

Sinn Féin announced its decision to return to Stormont three years after they collapsed.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said that it is the "responsibility of every party to ensure the Executive meets".

McDonald said the party was "ready to do business" and was ready to go back into the Six-County Executive and to make its nominations for First Minister and Deputy First Minister, to be held by the DUP and Sinn Féin respectively. She added that the party was doing this "on the basis that now we rebuild complete power-sharing."

McDonald also said she believed all of the North’s parties should now enter the Six-County Executive and abandon the idea of an "opposition".

The Dublin and London governments published the draft text on Thursday night as a basis for the restoration of the power-sharing institutions. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said there was a real chance that by Monday the Belfast Assembly and Executive would be back up and running.

The draft deal entitled ‘New Decade, New Approach’ sets out a number of wide-ranging priorities for a restored Executive. There are significant and complex changes to the petition of concern (unionist veto), particularly its use to block Ministerial decisions by nationalists.

It includes provision for legislative changes which would create an Irish Language Commissioner and an "Ulster British Language Commissioner", who would represent the Ulster Scots language and culture.

McDonald declared "we now have Acht Gaeilge with official legal recognition of the Irish language for the first time".

The Sinn Féin president said. "We now have a basis to restore powersharing, and we are up for that."

Referring to recent legislation at Westminster, McDonald said there has been progress on abortion provision and on same-sex marriage.

Mrs McDonald added: "I believe that powersharing can work. It requires everyone to step up. Sinn Féin’s commitment is to do all in our power to make this happen. We need to have an inclusive executive. At these historic times we will also continue to work for Irish reunification and we want to ensure that the criteria for the triggering of an Irish unity poll are set out and that planning for Irish Unity is stepped up. Including the convening of the national forum to discuss and plan for the future."

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) had this to say about the draft text: "On balance - said Arlene Foster, the DUP leader - we believe there is a basis upon which the Assembly and Executive can be re-established in a fair and balanced way."