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Brexit ‘will see more unionists consider Irish unity’ - O’Neill

Michelle O'Neill speaking on Saturday at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis in Dublin.

Sinn Féin’s Michelle O'Neill has said she believes more unionists will consider supporting a united Ireland as the economic consequences of Brexit become clear.

Speaking at the Ard Fheis in Dublin on Saturday, the party’s leader at Stormont spoke about a new political era.

“The old certainties are gone. The unionist majority has ended, Europe is in a state of flux and people here know that Brexit will be a disaster for the economy and that is why a cross-community majority of citizens in the north voted against it last June,” she said.

I am confident that as the economic consequences become clearer and hit home, more and more people from a unionist background will be open to at least exploring new scenarios, new relationships on this island, relationships which do not threaten their Britishness.

– Michelle O'Neill

She continued: “Republicanism and unionism must reach a sustainable compromise for sustainable dialogue premised on anti-sectarianism that will move us beyond the impasse of the present and bring us into a brighter future.

“To achieve that we must explore how we can accommodate each other’s aspirations in a manner that does not demand the surrender of cultural or traditional identity.

“We believe that Irish unity on the basis of equality offers the best future for everybody on this island. Therefore it is my responsibility our responsibility to spell out what sort of united Ireland we as republicans seek and to assure them of their place in an Ireland of equals.”

SF's Ruane resigns amid deputy speaker row

Sinn Féin's Caitriona Ruane has resigned her role as Principal Deputy Speaker with immediate effect.

She had faced calls to go after TUV MLA Jim Allister drew attention to the fact she remained in post, whilst no longer serving as an MLA, despite the Assembly not sitting for tenth months.

He released a statement on Thursday morning saying, “The position of Principal Deputy Speaker is a remunerated post (£55,000 pa). So, has Ms Ruane continued to be paid?

"If so, then, this is an even more scandalous situation. Moreover, did she receive a resettlement payment upon not standing for re-election (6 mths pay)?".

In a statement, Ms Ruane said it was a matter of Assembly record that she would donate her salary to "a range of charities".

"I can confirm that I have donated the monies received to charities and community groups including an Irish language group, a group for the elderly, an LGBT group and a charity for children with disabilities.

"I never anticipated that the election of a new Speaker and Deputy Speaker would be so protracted and I have come to the conclusion that now is the time to tender my resignation".

A Sinn Féin spokesperson had earlier commented on the situation, saying, "Caitriona Ruane was no longer an MLA after March this year.

"Any arrangements she may have come to with the Assembly were her own affair."

Sinn Féin’s McGuinness and Adams ‘have plan in place to step down’

Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness has said he and party president Gerry Adams have a plan for when they are going to step down from the party.

The Deputy First Minister says both men have discussed the transition plan, but speaking to UTV's Deputy Political Editor Tracey Magee, he refused to be drawn on whether they'll both step down at the same time.

"Obviously this is an issue that Gerry and I have discussed, and we know what we’re going to do," he said at a party event in Meath.

"We do have a plan and that plan is for a transition within the party and that is going to happen so the first people who will know about that will be the ard chomhairle, the membership of Sinn Féin."