Jeffrey Donaldson reflects on ‘challenging journey’ as Sinn Fein nationalist takes top role in Northern Ireland

Jeffrey Donaldson reflects on ‘challenging journey’ as Sinn Fein nationalist takes top role in Northern Ireland
Ben Chapman

By Ben Chapman

Published: 03/02/2024

- 14:19

Updated: 03/02/2024

- 14:26

Business at the Northern Ireland Assembly has reconvened on a day when Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill is set to become the first nationalist first minister following a two-year political collapse.

MLAs took their seats in the Assembly chamber at Parliament Buildings, Stormont, on Saturday for a sitting where ministers will be appointed to a powersharing executive, bringing an end to the impasse.

The DUP, the largest unionist party in the region, has agreed to the recall of the political institutions on the back of its deal with the Westminster Government, which party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson says has effectively removed the so-called Irish Sea trading border.

On Thursday, two pieces of legislation contained in the agreement were fast-tracked through the House of Commons, opening the way for the Assembly to return.

Donaldson, who is an MP and does not have a seat in the Assembly, spoke to reporters ahead of the reconvened sitting.

He said it had been a “challenging journey” to the restoration of the Assembly and Executive over the last two years.

“I believe that my party has delivered what many said we couldn’t,” he said.

“We have brought about change that many said was not possible, and I believe that today is a good day for Northern Ireland, a day when once again our place in the United Kingdom and its internal market is respected and protected in our law and restored for all our people to enjoy the benefits of our membership of the union,” he told media in the Great Hall.

“It’s a day when we come together and we take on the responsibility of providing good government for the people of Northern Ireland, for addressing the many issues that confront us at this time.

“My party is determined to play its part working with others to make Northern Ireland work, to make this place the best that it can be, to realise our potential to invest in our people, to ensure that our public services have the resources that they need to provide the best health care, a great education system, prosperity in our economy, housing and jobs for all.”

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