A ‘defining moment’ for Northern Ireland. Those are the words of Sinn Fein leader Michelle O’Neill describing her party’s historic result in local elections.
The Irish nationalist party whose mission is to unite Ireland – won the largest share of votes in the British province for the first time ever. O’Neill is on course to lead the next government. She said it was time for a ‘healthy debate’ on moving towards a united Ireland.
Ireland was divided a century ago, after its war of independence against Britain. What’s now the Republic emerged as a separate nation. But Northern Ireland remained part of the United Kingdom – because its Protestant majority wanted to stay British. Roman Catholics never accepted this partition. Tensions between the two communities turned violent in the 1960s – only ending in 1998 with the Good Friday agreement. But Brexit has sparked new tensions. Northern Ireland left the European Union with the rest of the UK, while the Republic of Ireland remains a member.

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