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People have spoken - but DUP and Sinn Féin won't

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Michelle O'Neill, Sinn Fein's leader in the North, is greeted by Sinn Fien President Gerry Adams as she arrives at the Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast for the Assembly election count. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA

Michelle O'Neill, Sinn Fein's leader in the North, is greeted by Sinn Fien President Gerry Adams as she arrives at the Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast for the Assembly election count. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA

PA

Michelle O'Neill, Sinn Fein's leader in the North, is greeted by Sinn Fien President Gerry Adams as she arrives at the Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast for the Assembly election count. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA

The people of Northern Ireland have spoken - and in significant numbers too.

The turnout for the Northern Ireland Assembly election is the highest since the vote which followed the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Although it was the second election in 12 months, there was no shortage of interest amongst the electorate.

A total of 64.8pc of the electorate voted - up 10 points on last year - beating the 2003 figure by 0.8pc.

The cash-for-ash scandal, which so significantly contributed to the demise of the Stormont Executive, doubtless played a role in the decision of voters to come out.

Sinn Féin has increased its vote, whilst the DUP has had a poor enough election, yet consolidated its place as the voice of Unionism.

The Ulster Unionist Party and SDLP had bad showings.

The two main opposition parties in the last Assembly were the biggest losers in the contest and the outlook for both parties is bleak.

When the reduction in the number of seats is factored in, the arithmetic in the Assembly will change.

However, the results mean the DUP and Sinn Féin will again lead the negotiations aimed at creating a new power-sharing government in Belfast.

There is only a remote chance of the parties reaching agreement in the three-week timeframe envisaged by British Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire.

Of course the election threw up the usual campaigning slogans and divisions.

After an election in any jurisdiction parties are obliged to set aside their differences in the interests of governing for the people.

In Northern Ireland, this seems an aspiration too far.

Compassion now in order in handling of Tuam babies case

The tireless work of a local historian has brought to light a horrific tale of a bygone era.

When she started out on her research into the Tuam Mother and Baby Home, for the local historical journal, Catherine Corless had envisaged this was to be just a simple story outlining the history of the home.

When she revealed her shocking findings locally at first to the religious and those in authority, there was not much interest in what she was saying.

Through her research, she disclosed the deaths of 798 babies and young children in the Tuam home during the years of its existence from 1925-1961. Yet she could not find any details of where they were buried.

“No one seemed to know,” she said.

Unfortunately, now we do.

The religious order which ran the mother and baby home has failed to issue an apology after a Commission of Investigation discovered the remains of hundreds of children in underground chambers at the property.

The Bon Secours Sisters said they could not comment on the find, which Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone described as “disturbing”.

The congregation’s motto is “Good Help to Those in Need”. Right now, the order must show compassion by acknowledging the wrongs of the past.

From there, the State must ensure there is a proper burial for those children who were let down decades ago.

Irish Independent