You are here
Home > News > Northern Ireland: Sinn Fein set to become largest party in local government

Northern Ireland: Sinn Fein set to become largest party in local government

Irish nationalists Sinn Fein followed up last year’s historic Northern Ireland Assembly victory by overtaking their unionist rivals by a wide margin in council elections on Saturday to become the biggest party at the local level for the first time.

Greeks bearing votes

Greece heads for what is likely to be an inconclusive parliamentary election on Sunday, paving the way for wrangling between parties to forge a…

see more

It is the latest political milestone for the former political wing of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) who want to leave the United Kingdom and form a united Ireland.

The left-wing party also comfortably leads opinion polls in the Republic of Ireland ahead of national elections due in 2025.

Sinn Fein’s share of the vote jumped almost 8 points to 31% and it had won 137 of the 462 seats up for grabs with 16 still to be declared. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), until last year the biggest party at the local and regional level, had 118.

Historic change is happening across this island, and Sinn Féin is leading that change.

These election results are a positive endorsement of Sinn Féin’s message that workers, families and communities need to be supported, and that the blocking of a new Assembly by one party must…

— Michelle O’Neill (@moneillsf) May 20, 2023

Historic change is happening, and Sinn Fein is leading that change right across Ireland,” the party’s leader in Northern Ireland Michelle O’Neill said, telling the DUP that voters wanted them to end a 15-month boycott of the regional assembly.

The DUP said that the elections were an opportunity to support its boycott and push for greater concessions from Britain on trade with Northern Ireland after Brexit. It also claimed that the results represented a “strong mandate” from the unionist community.

As counting came to a close, the party had gained one seat over the results from the last election, with Sinn Fein’s victory coming at the expense of more centrist nationalist and unionist parties.

The small, hardline Traditional Unionist Voice, which has put pressure on the DUP over the post-Brexit trade checks many unionists feel undermines their place in the UK, failed to replicate the surge in their vote at the regional level, while the cross-community Alliance Party made more modest gains than anticipated.

“We want the (British) government to deliver on the commitments they have given to protect Northern Ireland’s place within the United Kingdom and I hope to see progress in the next few weeks,” DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson told Reuters.

“You can’t dispense with unionists, you can’t dispense with the DUP. Unionism won’t be pushed to the side.”

The poll also marked the first time a Black person was elected to office in Northern Ireland, with Maasai woman Lilian Seenoi-Bar winning a seat for the nationalist SDLP.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.