Power-sharing has resumed in Northern Ireland, with the DUP’s Arlene Foster elected first minister and Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill elected deputy first minister.

The Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont is now up and running again after the government collapsed three years ago.

Sinn Fein and the DUP restarted their mandatory coalition after talks this week managed to break the deadlock.

Both parties have backed a wide-ranging deal that includes compromise solutions on disputes such as the Irish language.

Peace process structures mean the assembly can only function with the inclusion of the largest unionist party and largest nationalist party.

The last DUP/Sinn Fein-led coalition government collapsed in January 2017 following a row about a botched green energy scheme.

First minister and DUP leader Arlene Foster said she was “deeply humbled” to resume her role.

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“We have many differences,” she said. “Michelle’s (O’Neill) narrative of the past 40 years could not be more different to mine.

Arlene Foster
Image: Arlene Foster said it was ‘time for Stormont to move forward’

“I’m not sure we will ever agree on much about the past, but we can agree there was too much suffering, and that we cannot allow society to drift backwards and allow division to grow.

“Northern Ireland is succeeding in many ways. It’s time for Stormont to move forward and show that ‘together we are stronger’ for the benefit of everyone.”

Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill, the deputy leader, told Saturday’s opening session of the Belfast assembly that it was a “defining moment”.

She said the parties would “co-operate in every way we can in order to rebuild public trust and confidence”.

Ms O’Neill added: “Our mission must be to deliver on health, education and jobs for everyone across the whole community.

Michelle O'Neill
Image: Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill called it a ‘defining moment’

“I see no contradiction in declaring and delivering on our firm commitment to power-sharing with unionism in the Stormont assembly while also initiating a mature and inclusive debate about new political arrangements which examine Ireland’s future beyond Brexit.

“Similarly, there is no contradiction in unionism working the existing constitutional arrangements while taking its rightful place in the conversation about what a new Ireland would look like.

“We can do this while maintaining our independent distinct political identities and working in the best interests of all of the people. That is my firm commitment.”

As well as the election of the first minister and deputy first minister, Saturday’s session sees the election of other ministers.

Sinn Fein’s Alex Maskey has been chosen as Speaker.

The assembly got back to work after a three-year break
Image: The assembly got back to work after years of deadlock

The Ulster Unionist Party, the SDLP, and the Alliance Party are also all taking up ministries in the coalition.

The UK government has promised major investment in Northern Ireland.

One of the most high-profile issues is an industrial dispute that has seen nurses strike three times in the last month over pay.

The deal also includes provisions to reduce hospital waiting lists, extend payments for people hit by welfare reforms, increase police officers on the beat, and resolve a dispute involving teachers.

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