Former Sinn Féin leader and Louth TD Gerry Adams has described yesterday's formation of power-sharing at Stormont as "a very, very good day".

He also highlighted the important role the Assembly has as a moderating difference.

Sinn Féin’s national chairperson Declan Kearney, who was appointed a junior minister in the new administration, said he considers the re-opened Stormont as an engine for moving forward towards Irish unity but that he will have no difficulty in operating partnership and power-sharing with his political opponents.

Speaking about the Assembly, Mr Adams said "there needs to be a place to moderate differences and define common ground and hopefully, that’s what we now have."

He said: "It doesn’t have to be always on the streets; it does not have to be these mad radio talk programmes; it does not have to be who shouts and yells the loudest.

"Politicians have a mandate, we have differences and there is now a space to moderate those differences and to make progress for everyone."

Commenting on the fact that six of the top ten positions in the new power-sharing administration are held by women, Mr Adams said: "It is only fair. I am a strong feminist myself and it should never be left to only men.

"I was looking down at proceedings in the Chamber from the public gallery and I was pleased to see that the co-options to vacant Sinn Féin Assembly positions were young women."

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Speaking on RTÉ's The Week in Politics, Mr Kearney said he sees his role as an opportunity to see that the institutions work in the interests of all sections of society and firmly on the basis of rights, equality and integrity.

He also said: "We have now got a landmark opportunity, a beach head with which to advance the debate on constitutional change on the island and to take this as an engine for moving forward towards Irish unity and I am very confident we have the circumstances to achieve that."

Mr Kearney also said he is very confident that he will have no difficulty whatsoever in operating effective power-sharing and partnership with his political opponents because "that is what our people need and deserve".

Gerry Adams watched yesterday’s proceedings from the public gallery. He resigned his Assembly seat in December 2010 to successfully contest the Louth constituency Dáil elections.

He stepped down as Sinn Féin leader in February 2018 and he is not expected to contest the forthcoming general election.