Hardline unionists succeeded in winning approval for a provocative monument to partition at Stormont on the day their boycott of the Assembly blocked over a hundred organ transplants.
At a special recall of the Assembly on Tuesday, members were once again unable to elect a Speaker and Deputy Speakers by the DUP veto, preventing the passage of enabling legislation for ‘Dáithí’s Law’. The legislation is named after six-year-old Dáithí Mac Gabhann whose heart transplant has been delayed by the boycott.
In her remarks at Stormont, Sinn Féin’s First Minister-designate Michelle O’Neill implored unionists to re-elect a Speaker to pass the law.
She said: “Let me be clear, today is not a day for party politics. Today is about those of us who are legislators fulfilling our duty and delivering,” she said. Not to do so would be a dereliction of duty, she added.
“There is an onus on all of us here today to work together and to give hope to all those families who need us to get this done.”
Supporters of the families whose loved ones are awaiting organ transplants were in the gallery, but as proceedings ended in failure, one shouted ‘Joke!” in reaction to the day’s events.
Despite the Assembly remaining paralysed, unionists ironically managed to push through approval for a commemorative stone depicting the Six County statelet against Sinn Féin’s wishes.
The 100th anniversary of the British-imposed partition of Ireland was “celebrated” by unionists at Stormont last year, although their plan for a commemorative monument had been blocked at the Assembly Commission.
Decisions taken by the commission require agreement from all of its members. A fresh request for the commemorative stone got approval from the commission on Monday due to the fact that Sinn Féin no longer has a representative on it.
The previous Sinn Féin’s representative, John O’Dowd, left the post when he became an interim minister last May. Sinn Féin was then unable to nominate a replacement, as the power-sharing institutions were not functioning.
The monument could have been blocked by the nationalist SDLP, but its representative Matthew O’Toole said his party supported the installation of the stone “to show unionists that that tradition is going to be not just tolerated, but celebrated in a new Ireland”.
Sinn Féin it was “bizarre” that the unionist parties would focus on the stone “while the assembly is being blocked from doing business on the real issues which are affecting the lives of all our people”.