How the world reported Michelle O’Neill’s election as First Minister of Northern Ireland

Sinn Féin’s vice-president made headlines as Saturday marked ‘a pivotal moment for Irish nationalism’

The news of Michelle O’Neill’s historic election as the first nationalist First Minister of Northern Ireland made headlines around the world.

In Britain, the Sinn Féin vice-president’s appointment on Saturday featured on the front pages of several newspapers.

Leading with the headline “Sinn Féin marches into the history books”, the Sunday Times reported: “Sinn Féin’s vice-president pledged to work with unionists to build a better future as the powersharing institutions returned.”

The Sunday Times front page

Leading with a photo of O’Neill in Stormont, the UK Independent wrote: “The appointment of the Sinn Féin vice-president is a pivotal moment for Irish nationalism as it ends the dominance of pro-British unionists as first ministers.”

The Independent front page

Similarly, the Observer led with a photo of O’Neill with the caption “stepping into history”. “The chamber’s ornate ceiling remained blue, red and gold, and Portland stone still held up the Stormont edifice, but the beaming Sinn Féin faces declared this was a historic moment for Irish nationalism,” Rory Carroll wrote.

The Observer front page

The significance of O’Neill’s appointment was reported across Europe. In Spain, El País led with the headline “For the first time, an Irish nationalist will lead Northern Ireland’s government”.

In Germany, daily newspaper Die Welt said: “From now on, Irish nationalist politician Michelle O’Neill will lead the country’s fortunes.”

Meanwhile, Germany’s Der Speigel news website reported that, after a two-year political crisis, “Northern Ireland has a regional government again – headed by a politician for the first time who seeks reunification with EU member Ireland and rejects remaining in the United Kingdom”.

“Michelle O’Neill officially became, on Saturday February 3rd, the first Republican, in favour of the unification of Ireland, to take the helm of the Northern Irish government,” France’s Le Monde reported.

In the United States, the New York Times reported the election of Michelle O’Neill as a “landmark moment”. “Now, for the first time, a Sinn Féin politician holds Northern Ireland’s top political office, a landmark moment for the party and for the broader region as a powersharing government is restored,” the newspaper said.

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