The US urged Northern Ireland to re-establish a power-sharing executive following nationalist Sinn Fein’s election victory on Saturday.
“We call on Northern Ireland’s political leaders to take the necessary steps to re-establish a power-sharing executive, which is one of the core institutions established by the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement late Saturday.
“Critical and immediate challenges concerning the economy, health, and education are best addressed through the collective efforts of a devolved government chosen by, and accountable to, its people,” Price added.
He said that the political and economic progress enjoyed over the election period is “a testament to the benefits of a locally accountable power-sharing government that reflects Northern Ireland’s diverse traditions.”
Washington “enjoys a deep and long-standing relationship” with Northern Ireland, the spokesman said, adding: “We remain deeply committed to preserving the peace dividend of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and will always strive to protect these gains for all communities.”
Under the 1998 Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, nationalist and unionist parties cannot form a government if the other party does not nominate a first minister and deputy first minister. Thus, the Democratic Unionist Party will need to nominate its leader as the deputy first minister to form such a government.
Sinn Fein, which also operates in the Republic of Ireland in the south, seeks a united Ireland and has argued for a referendum on the unity of the two countries. Under the principles of the Good Friday Agreement, such a referendum could be held under the right conditions.
Although Sinn Fein has repeatedly called for a referendum on uniting Northern Ireland with the republic, its victory in the devolved government does not automatically give it the right to hold one.
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