Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill is the first Irish Republican to lead Northern Ireland

Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill was today appointed First Minister of Northern Ireland. She is the first Irish Republican to occupy the position, left open for two years by a Unionist boycott of government that helped convince voters there to make Sinn Fein the largest party in government for the first time.

O'Neill is expected to be nominated as first minister in the government that under the terms of the 1998 Good Friday peace accord shares power between Northern Ireland's two main communities — British unionists who want to stay in the U.K., and Irish nationalists who seek to unite with Ireland. Northern Ireland was established as a unionist, Protestant-majority part of the U.K. in 1921, following independence for the Republic of Ireland.

One side can't govern without agreement from the other. Government business ground to a half over the past two years after the Democratic Unionist Party walked out to protest trade issues related to Brexit.

She is popular, her party is polling better than it ever has, elections are expected later this year, and she was invited to and attended King Charles' coronation, the latest example of Irish Republican-British cosiness to alarm Unionists, who are increasingly loathed in the country they want to remain part of. Maybe Data was right after all!