London party

Sinn Fein leaders will meet Tory MPs in London today over the political impasse in Northern Ireland

Sinn Fein leaders accuse Tories of ‘bowing’ to trade unionists amid Northern Ireland’s political stalemate as they tour Parliament – with Mary Lou McDonald predicting Irish unity referendum before the end of the decade

  • Mary Lou McDonald and MP Michelle O’Neill will visit Parliament later today
  • The Republican Party has seven MPs, but they refuse to sit in the Commons
  • Last high-level visit by party leaders to parliament was in 2015
  • Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness then met Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn

Sinn Fein leaders have accused the Tories of pandering to the DUP ahead of a rare visit to Westminster today, during which they will seek to break the political deadlock in Northern Ireland.

Party leader Mary Lou McDonald and Deputy Speaker Michelle O’Neill will later travel to Parliament to meet politicians in their most high-profile visit to the capital in years.

The Republican Party has seven MPs, but they refuse to sit because it involves pledging allegiance to the Queen.

The last high-level visit by party leaders to Parliament was in 2015, when Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness met then Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Ms McDonald was also among those who made the trip and today told Good Morning Britain she expected an Irish unification referendum to take place within a decade.

The Sinn Fein leader has confirmed that her party has invited all MPs and members of the House of Lords to attend a briefing in Westminster this evening for a “conversation about change, about what is happening in Ireland, on (Northern Ireland) protocol and the absolute urgency and need to get the executive going”.

It is understood that no government minister plans to attend.

The Democratic Unionist Party collapsed the power-sharing executive in February in protest at the Northern Ireland Protocol to Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal with the EU, which introduced customs checks between Ulster and Great Britain.

And the extremists refused to reconvene him after the election, now they are no longer the biggest party.

Ms O’Neill told the BBC: ‘The UK Government must stop pandering to the DUP.

Party leader Mary Lou McDonald and Deputy Speaker Michelle O’Neill (pictured this week with Nicola Sturgeon) will later travel to Parliament to meet Tory politicians in their most high-profile visit to the capital in years

The last high-level visit by party leaders to Parliament was in 2015, when Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness met then Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The last high-level visit by party leaders to Parliament was in 2015, when Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness met then Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Ms McDonald was also among those who made the trip and today told Good Morning Britain she expected an Irish unification referendum to take place within a decade.

Ms McDonald was also among those who made the trip and today told Good Morning Britain she expected an Irish unification referendum to take place within a decade.

“The voice of the DUP does not reflect the larger vision at home. And the reality is that the protocol works.

“It’s just Boris Johnson and the DUP, in their approach, that are the outlier here.”

Ms O’Neill leads Stormont’s largest party after elections earlier this month, the first time a nationalist party has come out on top.

But she cannot form a devolved government at Stormont as prime minister without the DUP appointing a deputy prime minister.

She also claimed today that she is not ‘too attached’ to what she calls Northern Ireland.

She usually tries to refer to ‘northern Ireland’ instead, but referred to ‘Northern Ireland’ in the Assembly earlier this month, said people should be ‘a bit relaxed about of these things”.

When asked if she could call it Northern Ireland, she replied: ‘Yes, and I did last week.

“And I think it is important that, even if the democratic result of the election is respected, I am the first minister of the executive of Northern Ireland.

“So I think we shouldn’t dwell on those things. That’s the beauty of the Good Friday Agreement – British, Irish or both or neither.

“So I think it’s important. I think we should be a bit relaxed about these things.