America Responds to Historic Election of Michelle O’Neill to First Minister

As news of the historic election of the first Irish nationalist First Minister made its way around the world, American political leaders responded with congratulations and optimism.

United States President Joe Biden released a statement on Saturday saying “I welcome and strongly support the restoration of the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly at Stormont, and I commend the political leaders of Northern Ireland for taking the necessary steps to restore these core institutions. 

“As I said when I visited Belfast last year to mark the 25th anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, the democratic institutions it established remain critical for the future of Northern Ireland, and a government that finds ways through hard problems together will draw even greater opportunity to Northern Ireland.

“I look forward to seeing the renewed stability of a power-sharing government that strengthens the peace dividend, restores public services, and continues building on the immense progress of the last decades. 

“This is an important step, and I am confident that through consistent dialogue and ongoing cooperation with both the United Kingdom and Ireland, Stormont’s restoration will facilitate the critical North-South and East-West relations vital to the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, and ensure that Northern Ireland will continue to be vibrant and dynamic, defined by unlimited opportunity for all who call it home.”

Representative Richard Neal of Massachusetts said, “Congratulations to Michelle O’Neill on her election to serve as First Minister of Northern Ireland – the first Irish nationalist leader in history to hold the seat. The people made their voices heard in two successive elections, & now the parties can resume the people’s business.”

Congressman Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania said, “Congratulations to Michelle O’Neill who today makes history in becoming the first ever nationalist elected First Minister of Northern Ireland. I also congratulate all those who have chosen to take up their seats in the NI Assembly and try to make power sharing work.”

Congressman Bill Keating of Massachuesetts released a statement which read, “For almost two years, the devolved government in Northern Ireland has been broken.

“After long, tough negotiations, Northern Ireland is on the precipice of the reconstitution of the Assembly and the Executive, a breakthrough that will only serve to benefit the people of Northern Ireland who deserve representation in accordance with the Good Friday Agreement.

“Having visited both Dublin & Belfast in November 2022 and engaging with all 5 political parties, business & trade leaders, victims’ groups, and students in an integrated school, the benefits brought on by peace & reconciliation initiated by the Good Friday Agreement could not be clearer.

“At the same time, a new generation of leaders have taken on the challenge of guiding and shaping Northern Ireland’s next 25 years and beyond—young people who seek a vibrant, prosperous, and peaceful future.

“I look forward to engaging with both Northern Ireland’s elected leaders during the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day events in Washington as well as officials from across Ireland and the United Kingdom ahead of the 26th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.”

“The US Ambassador to Ireland, Claire Cronin said, “The U.S. welcomes the restoration of the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly at Stormont. We congratulate NI’s political leaders for taking the necessary steps to restore this core institution. A stable, power-sharing government will help protect the gains of the Good Friday Agreement.”

First Minister Michelle O’Neill, Deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly, Junior Minister Aisling Reilly, and Junior Minister Pam Cameron.

U.S. Ambassador to the UK, Jane Hartley, released a statement which read, “The restoration of devolved government in Belfast is great news for the people of Northern Ireland. Devolved government, accountable to its citizenry and delivered in a spirit of collective responsibility, remains the cornerstone of the Belfast / Good Friday Agreement. The signing of that Agreement took genuine leadership, and its enduring legacy is the immensely improved political and economic conditions that Northern Ireland enjoys today.

“I commend the major parties in Northern Ireland for their patience and their commitment to the reestablishment of devolved institutions and, in particular, Jeffrey Donaldson for his leadership. I also applaud Prime Minister Sunak and his government for their tireless efforts in recent negotiations. I congratulate First Minister Michelle O’Neill and deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly on their new roles and look forward to supporting their efforts to bring effective, inclusive, and durable government to Northern Ireland. 

“While the return to Stormont is a milestone and an important step forward, I recognize that Northern Ireland still faces challenges. I have seen the tremendous accomplishments of Northern Ireland’s economy, but I have also seen communities that deserve to benefit more from that economic progress. Attracting investment to Northern Ireland and promoting economic growth, especially in the areas that need it most, will be much easier with a working government in Belfast. 

“As the single largest source of investment into Northern Ireland, the United States is betting on Northern Ireland’s future. Today, that future just got a whole lot brighter.”

Former US Congressman Peter King said, “In a truly historic moment an Irish nationalist, Michelle O’Neill who supports reunification with the Irish Republic, will lead the government of Northern Ireland as First Minister. 

“This is an achievement which could only have been dreamed of for decades if not centuries and is a validation of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement which brought the real chance for peace on the island of Ireland for the first time in 800 years. The Good Friday Agreement would not have been possible without the efforts and leadership of President Bill Clinton, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern. I was proud to have been part of that process. 

“Congratulations and best wishes for success to Michelle O’Neill”

The Irish Times captured global response in their story, “How the world reported Michelle O’Neill’s election as First Minister of Northern Ireland