Sinn Féin Vice-President Michelle O’Neill has said she is “hopeful” power sharing can be restored in 2019 on the basis of equality.
Ms O’Neill was speaking as she looked towards the coming year, the looming UK government’s plan to leave the European Union in March and the potential for ending the political stalemate at Stormont.
Ms. O’Neill said the “chaos” of Brexit has dominated politics over the past year and more of the same is to be expected in 2019.
“But, equally,” she said, “Sinn Féin will continue to provide strong leadership and decisive action, representing the best interests of all our citizens.
“We are living in historic times. And despite the chaos and uncertainty of Brexit, I am hopeful about the future.
“Hopeful because more and more progressive voices are coming together to assert their rights as citizens and reject the kind of narrow, self-serving agendas that brought us Brexit, Tory cuts and the denial of rights.
“I believe progress is possible. I am hopeful we can end the denial of rights in the north and restore our power-sharing institutions on the basis of equality.
“The prejudice felt by women, the LGBTQ community, Irish speakers and victims is incompatible with the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Through all the chaos, uncertainty and challenges that face us, that peace agreement must be protected.
“It’s time we finally give people the kind of government, society and future that they deserve and can have confidence in.
“A new Assembly and a new type of politics is possible. Let’s make 2019 the year of real and lasting change.
“Nollaig shona do gach duine agus bliain úr faoi mhaise daoibh go léir.”
Ms. O’Neill also praised those working in our frontline services over the Christmas period.
She said: “While many people will be relaxing at home with their families over the Christmas period, thousands of doctors, nurses, paramedics, fire fighters and vital support staff will be at work, caring for patients, supporting families and saving lives.”