Michelle O’Neill and Nicola Sturgeon hold talks on future today

Sinn Féin Assembly Leader and First Minister Designate Michelle O’Neill MLA met with Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP at her Bute House residence in Edinburgh to discuss issues concerning the future.

By Brendan McDaid
Friday, 20th May 2022, 4:53 pm

Following their meeting, Michelle O’Neill said: “I was delighted to visit Scotland today to meet Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to discuss a number of shared priorities and to update her on political developments at Stormont.

“This included the cost-of-living crisis which is bearing down hard on workers and families, and the need for action by our administrations.

“We also discussed the need to ensure the Government in London protect people struggling with soaring costs where we don’t have the powers to act.

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EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - MAY 20: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (R) and Sinn Fein Vice President Michelle O'Neill ahead of a meeting at Bute House on May 20, 2022 in Edinburgh, Scotland. O'Neill became the leader of the largest party in the Northern Ireland Assembly after recent elections. O'Neill and Sturgeon met to discuss areas of common ground including the cost of living crisis, the Northern Ireland Protocol and the formation of the new Northern Ireland Executive. (Photo by Jane Barlow - Pool / Getty Images)

“I updated the First Minister on our recent elections, and the overwhelming demand from the electorate who have given the parties a mandate to get the Assembly and Executive up and running without further delay.

“The public want us to unlock the £420 million sitting in the Executive’s bank account to support households, and to agree a budget which will invest an extra £1 billion in our health service.”

Michelle O’Neill added: “Both Scotland and the island of Ireland held membership of the EEC and EU from 1973. We enjoyed the enormous benefits of our membership until the north of Ireland and Scotland were dragged out of the EU as a result of the Tory Brexit without our consent, and against the democratically expressed wishes of our people.

“Six years on from the referendum the implications are being felt acutely. I had the opportunity to update the First Minister on the Protocol which gives us unique access to the EU single market and the world’s biggest trading bloc and how this is yielding benefits for business and our local economy.”

Michelle O’Neill said the historic bonds between Scotland and the island of Ireland ‘go back centuries’. “We enjoy a long and enduring affinity, as close neighbours and good friends. Moving forward I am determined to strengthen the bond that ties us – politically, culturally and economically - so that our administrations can work together in our shared interests through strong intergovernmental relations.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Today’s meeting was an excellent opportunity to discuss some of the shared challenges Scotland and Northern Ireland face and I thank Michelle for reaching out and enabling us to discuss these extremely important issues in person.

“It was a particularly timely conversation which provided an update on the ongoing developments around establishing the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive following elections earlier this month.

“We also discussed the Northern Ireland protocol – most notably the extremely concerning announcement by the UK Government that they intend to legislate to enable unilateral action to dis-apply parts of the protocol – and the incredibly damaging effects this would have in communities right across the UK. In a cost of living crisis and teetering on the edge of recession, pitching us into a trade dispute with the EU could be what tips us over.

“Intergovernmental relations are essential when it comes to tackling shared challenges and it is clear that much more needs to be done by the UK Government to ensure a rapid and effective response to the devastating cost of living crisis facing households across these islands. No one should ever have to make a choice between heating and eating.

“Today’s meeting was a further example of the close relationship between Scotland and Northern Ireland. In that spirit, I have written today to the leaders of the DUP and Alliance parties with an offer to meet to discuss these important matters.”