Opinion: Sinn Féin's attendance at Royal Coronation highlights DUP’s ineptitude 4 months ago

Opinion: Sinn Féin's attendance at Royal Coronation highlights DUP’s ineptitude

The decision by Michelle O'Neill highlights the stark differences in approach between Sinn Féin and the DUP.

Northern Ireland's First Minister-designate, Michelle O'Neill, has accepted an invitation offered by Buckingham Palace to attend the coronation of King Charles III next month.


In doing so, the Vice President of Sinn Féin continues to embody the shifting attitudes within the nationalist party, as it embraces the spirit of change, unlike the archaic Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

Michelle O'Neill Michelle O'Neill confirmed on Wednesday that she would be in attendance at King Charles' Coronation on May 6th. (Credit: Getty Images)

Offering a dignified and composed explanation of her attendance to her social media followers on Wednesday, Ms. O'Neill tweeted:


"I have accepted an invitation to attend the coronation of King Charles III.

"We are living in a time of great change. A time to respect our differing and equally legitimate aspirations, and focus on the opportunities the next decade will bring. I am an Irish Republican. I also recognise there are many people on our island for whom the coronation is a hugely important occasion".

Ms. O'Neill went on to add that as she is a "First Minister for all", she would join Irish President Michael D. Higgins in attending the Westminster event.

The Sinn Féin Vice President's attendance is just the latest portrayal of her party's shifting approach in Northern Ireland, with the party opting to transition away from the staunch and divisive Republican attitudes of old, and instead adopt a more considerate and inclusive outlook.

Sinn Fein coronation The decision to attend the coronation is just the latest embodiment of Sinn Féin's fresh approach in the North. (Credit: Getty Images)

Back in 2011, Queen Elizabeth II sparked a thawing of relations between the British establishment and Irish Republicanism, by laying a commemorative wreath for IRA volunteers at Dublin's Garden of Remembrance.

In response, Sinn Féin saw the opportunity to advance into a new age of acceptance and collaboration, which was signified by former IRA member and then-Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, meeting and shaking hands with the Queen.

A similar symbolic gesture occurred three years later in County Galway, as former Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams shook hands with the now King Charles.


In 2021, current party President Mary Lou McDonald apologised for the IRA's killing of Lord Mountbatten and also expressed her condolences to the Royal family over the passing of Prince Phillip.

Further acts of reaching across the political divide were seen last September too, when Ms. O'Neill and her party offered words of respect in the wake of Queen Elizabeth II's sudden passing.

Sinn Fein coronation The DUP have been schooled in a lesson on optics by their Republican opposition. (Credit: Getty Images)

The approach of acceptance highlighting the DUP's ineptitude.


Unlike their Republican counterparts, the DUP have instead opted to dig their heels in and remain steadfast in their reluctance to embrace a new and more bipartisan Northern Ireland.

On countless occasions over recent years, whether it be under the stewardship of Arlene Foster, the short-lived reign of Edwin Poots or incumbent leader Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP has shown itself to be a party for just one side of the North, failing to take into account the concerns of the now Republican majority.

One such example was the near-assembly-ending row which ensued around the infamous Irish Language Act, in which Sinn Féin sought for the Irish language to gain official legislature accreditation in the North.

Instead of accepting the request from their rival party, the DUP instead opted to fight tooth and nail to elongate the process of recognising Irish as an official language to an almost painful extent, with the party laughably arguing that nationalists were "weaponising" language to undermine the North's Britishness.

Michelle O'Neill Coronation Joe Biden visited the North earlier this month, reiterating his belief that compromise is central to the region's success. (Credit: Getty Images)

On what was the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday agreement earlier this month, DUP members also locked heads with US President Joe Biden, who simply claimed that "more work needed to be done" in securing the North's future peace and prosperity.

Though perhaps the most obvious example of the DUP's inability to sense the shifting attitudes within Northern Ireland is the party's handling of the Brexit conundrum.

Having lost power to Sinn Féin for the first time in the history of the state last May, the latest iteration of the Stormont Assembly has failed to sit on even a sole occasion, largely thanks to the DUP's absurd protest over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The Protocol, which was designed to prevent a return of hard borders between North and South, possessed "fundamental problems" according to the DUP, and has ultimately led to their year-long boycotting of the Assembly.

Michelle O'Neill Coronation Jeffrey Donaldson has shown himself unable to compromise and reach across the political divide. (Credit: Getty Images)

Operating under the slogan "Strength to deliver" during the 2019 election, the DUP have done anything but since, instead leaving the communities they supposedly represent without a sitting and functioning government.

It is this decision which also played a part in the North entering a "technical recession" in 2022, alongside its economic productivity falling to 40% less than that of the Republic.

Ironically, in failing to welcome change, the DUP has perhaps caused the most seismic of changes in the history of the Northern Irish state, with their past decade of incompetence laying the roadwork for Sinn Féin's ascendancy to power.

Michelle O'Neill on the other hand, appears to be one of the few political figures within the North striving to reach across the cultural chasm in the hopes of creating a more prosperous future for its people.

Sinn Féin 1, the DUP 0- courtesy of a Jeffrey Donaldson own goal.

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