Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill accepts invitation to coronation of King Charles

Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill accepts invitation to coronation of King Charles

SINN FÉIN'S Michelle O'Neill has revealed she has accepted an invitation to the coronation of King Charles III.

The party's Vice-President has said she will attend the event along with colleague Alex Maskey, Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Ms O'Neill, the First Minister Designate following Sinn Féin's success in the May 2022 Assembly Election, said she recognised the importance of the coronation.

"We are living in a time of great change," she said.

"A time to respect our differing and equally legitimate aspirations, a time to firmly focus on the future and the opportunities that 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.

"I am committed to being a First Minister for all, representing the whole community, building good relations between the people of these islands, and advancing peace and reconciliation through respectful and mature engagement.

"Therefore, as First Minister Designate, I will join President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins, international figures, church leaders, other party leaders and the Assembly Speaker Alex Maskey for the coronation in London."

DUP flag proposal

Sinn Féin became the largest party in the Assembly after last year's elections but MLAs have been unable to take their seats due to the DUP's refusal to form an Executive.

While the unionist party appeared to welcome Ms O'Neill's landmark decision, it also accused Sinn Féin of trying to 'remove every element of royalty' from local councils.

"Michelle O'Neill's attendance at the coronation is an improvement on previous refusals at similar such royal occasions, but needs communicated to rank and file Sinn Féin elected members," he said.

"In many minority unionist councils Sinn Féin opposed unionist plans to mark the coronation.

"If Sinn Féin truly believes in building a shared future, then they should have no problem in supporting the Union Flag being raised on all public buildings to mark the coronation.

"Sinn Féin elected members have led a campaign in councils across Northern Ireland to remove every element of royalty and aspects of Britishness.

"This decision by Michelle O'Neill must be about more than a photograph, there needs to be a change of wider policy and attitude by Sinn Féin."

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson will also attend the coronation, which takes place on Saturday, May 6.