Paul Givan and Michelle O'Neill appointed as Northern Ireland First and Deputy First Ministers amidst "bedlam" in the DUP
Nominations were made earlier today following the UK Government's commitment to an Irish language act.
Paul Givan and Michelle O'Neill have been officially appointed as Northern Ireland's First and Deputy First Ministers.
DUP leader Edwin Poots has formally nominated Lagan Valley MLA Paul Givan as Northern Ireland's new First Minister at a special sitting of the Stormont Assembly.
Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy also nominated party colleague Michelle O’Neill as Deputy First Minister at the same special sitting on Thursday.
However, the nominations come amid what has been described as "bedlam" during the party meeting on Thursday.
It is understood that 20 DUP MLAs voted against the decision to nominate Givan, however, DUP Leader Edwin Poots went ahead with the nomination anyway.
LATEST: Understand DUP MLAs & MPs voted AGAINST nominating for First minister. The vote was decisive more than 20 against. But @edwinpootsmla has nominated @paulgivan anyway. One very senior DUP source says there was “bedlam” in the party meeting.
— Tracey Magee (@Tracey_utv) June 17, 2021
It comes as the British government agreed that it will introduce an Irish language act in Northern Ireland in October if the Stormont Assembly does not do so by September.
On Wednesday, Sinn Féin Leader Mary Lou McDonald said that her party had nominated a Deputy First Minister at Stormont after she received a commitment from the UK Government to legislate for Irish language protections at Westminster.
The development came after a night of intensive talks between Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis and DUP and Sinn Féin delegations in Belfast.
After Arlene Foster’s resignation as First Minister on Monday, the DUP and Sinn Féin had just seven days to nominate for the two positions, or else power-sharing would collapse.
An October election would have been on the cards had a First Minister and Deputy First Minister not been nominated, but this scenario has now been averted.
McDonald said on Twitter: “The British Govt has tonight agreed to legislate for Acht Gaeilge.
“This is the only way to break the cycle of DUP obstruction of rights. Sinn Sinn Féin will nominate [Michelle O’Neill] as Deputy First Minister. We have important work ahead.”