Michelle O’Neill, vice president of Sinn Féin and First Minister-designate in the North, held a number of high-profile meetings on Capitol Hill in the US last week.
Her trip was an effort to garner US support for the restoration of the Assembly at Stormont which has been dormant for well over a year as the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) refuses to take its seats.
“There is a firm political focus on the North from US political leaders, and strong support for the urgent restoration of the Assembly,” O’Neill said on social media after her meetings.
“I have met with senior congressional leaders across the political spectrum including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and other leading representatives from both the Democratic and Republican parties.
“There is a shared and united expectation to see the outcome of last May’s Assembly election respected, and for the Assembly to be back up and running to deliver for all our people and communities.”
There is a firm political focus on the North from U.S political leaders, and strong support for the urgent restoration...Posted by Michelle O'Neill on Thursday, June 8, 2023
Schumer issued a statement after his Tuesday meeting with O’Neill: “I was pleased to meet today with Michelle O’Neill, first minister-elect of Northern Ireland. I congratulated her and the members of Sinn Féin for another historic electoral victory last month and expressed my strong desire that all parties respect the will of the voters and get to business forming a power-sharing government ASAP to do the people’s business.
“We spoke about my continued deep commitment to the Good Friday Agreement, which has done so much to foster peace, stability and shared progress for all communities, including the passage of my Senate resolution commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
"We also discussed my opposition to the so-called ‘Legacy’ legislation in the UK, which would undermine the rights of the victims of The Troubles.
"I look forward to working with First Minister-elect O’Neill, and all parties in Northern Ireland, to see the principles of the Good Friday Agreement be put back into practice and to build a better future for all communities.”
I'm pleased to meet with Michelle O’Neill, First Minister-elect of Northern Ireland
I congratulated her & Sinn Féin on their electoral victories and expressed my strong desire that all parties respect the will of the voters and get to business forming a power-sharing government pic.twitter.com/OMwSPWgzV9— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) June 7, 2023
Other politicians O’Neill met with include former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Richie Neal, and members of the Friends of Ireland caucus. She was accompanied by Ciaran Quinn, Sinn Féin’s representative for North America.
Delighted to host First Minister Elect Michelle O’Neill on Capitol Hill earlier today to discuss the recent local elections in Northern Ireland. pic.twitter.com/6w0AMCqWt8— Rep. Richard Neal (@RepRichardNeal) June 6, 2023
"The key takeaways from the trip were hope and optimism. Everyone we met wanted the government in the North up and running, wanted the Good Friday Agreement implemented, and in a world full of crises, they wanted Ireland to succeed,” Quinn wrote in an email.
“The positivity was infectious. The challenges we face are not onerous and the opportunities are immense. We need the British government to honor its commitments, end unilateral actions, and get back to a working partnership with the Irish government.”