SINN FEIN vice president and first minister designate of Northern Ireland Michelle O’Neill has voiced her support for a second Scottish independence referendum, following First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement of plans for a further vote earlier this week.

Responding to Sturgeon’s statement on Tuesday, in which she told MSPs the Scottish Government intends to stage a second independence referendum on 19 October 2023, O’Neill told The National: "Scotland’s future will be determined by the Scottish people through a second referendum.  

“The Tories have forced Scotland out of the EU without its consent. The political and economic impact six years on is felt acutely.”  

The National:

O’Neill defended the first minister’s right to pursue another referendum, saying: “Nicola Sturgeon is mandated to defend Scotland’s interests as first minister.

“The imposed hard Tory Brexit has exposed the democratic deficit in Scotland, and the North of Ireland. Re-entry back into the EU is through independence.

“The political landscape across these isles is now rapidly changing and public attitudes are shifting. People want change. 

“This will inevitably lead to the break-up of the current constitutional arrangements in Britain and in Ireland and opens up the prospects for new arrangements which serve the best interests of Scotland."

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Following May’s Stormont elections, which saw Sinn Féin become the largest party in the Northern Ireland assembly for the first time in history, a spokesperson for the Irish republican party said that O’Neill was “determined to strengthen our bonds of friendship with Scotland and with the Scottish Government as we work hard to defend our shared interests against a self-serving Conservative government.”

However, the formation of a new ministerial executive in Northern Ireland has thus far been blocked by the Democratic Unionist Party over their objections regarding the Northern Ireland Protocol.

O’Neill’s latest intervention follows comments from Sinn Féin national chairperson Declan Kearney earlier this week also welcoming the prospect of a 2023 referendum.

Kearney said: “This decisive strategic initiative by the Scottish Government now provides a road map for the Scottish people to determine their own future.

“Successive elections and polls have demonstrated a growing majority in support of Scottish independence and change. The Scottish first minister has been clear, if the British government continues to block the right of Scottish people to have their say, the SNP will fight a general election as a de facto referendum. Either way the Scottish people will be given a democratic voice to have their say.

Kearney added that the momentum for constitutional change in Ireland has also “never been stronger” and called upon the Irish Government to immediately convene a national Citizens Assembly on the nation’s constitutional future, saying: “This would represent an important landmark towards securing an Irish unity referendum.

“In parallel with Scotland, it is time to prepare for change in Ireland, and plan for an agreed, progressive future, which is free from the reckless interference, and appalling disregard for democracy and international law of this British government.”