The appointment of a new executive by the Northern Ireland Assembly on Saturday was a hugely significant moment. There was no government at Stormont for exactly two years from 3 February 2022 until Michelle O’Neill of Sinn Féin accepted the assembly’s nomination to be first minister at the weekend. She is the first Republican leader of Northern Ireland since the state was created in May 1921, what its inaugural prime minister, Sir James Craig, would describe as ‘a Protestant parliament and a Protestant state’.
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