Sinn Fein crushes Unionist rivals again in Northern Ireland local elections
Sinn Fein’s Irish nationalists followed last year’s historic victory in the Northern Ireland Assembly by easily overtaking their unionist rivals in Saturday’s mayoral elections to become the largest party at local level for the first time .
This is the last political step for the old political branch of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) which wants to leave the UK and form a united Ireland.
The left-wing party also comfortably tops opinion polls in the Republic of Ireland ahead of national elections due in 2025.
Sinn Fein’s vote share jumped nearly 8 points to 31% and it won 144 of the 462 seats up for grabs, up 39% from the 2019 result. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), up last year, the largest party at local and regional level, held on with 122 seats with 23% of the vote.
“A historic change is happening, and Sinn Fein is leading that change across Ireland,” said Northern Ireland party leader Michelle O’Neill, telling the DUP that voters wanted they end a 15-month boycott of the regional assembly.
The DUP had presented the election as a chance to reinforce its call for further concessions from Britain on post-Brexit Northern Irish trade – the reason for its boycott – and said the results were a ” strong mandate” of the unionist community.
Sinn Fein’s success has come at the expense of more intermediate nationalist and unionist parties.
The Cross-Community Alliance party has made more limited gains than expected while the tough traditional Unionist small voice – which has lobbied the DUP over post-Brexit trade controls that many unionists believe is undermining their place in the UK – Uni – failed to repeat the increase. when voting at regional level.
“We want the (British) government to deliver on the commitments they have made to protect Northern Ireland’s place within the UK and I hope to see progress in the coming weeks,” he told Reuters. DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson.
“You can’t do without trade unionists, you can’t do without the DUP. Trade unionism will not be set aside.
The poll also marked the first time a black person has been elected to office in Northern Ireland, with Maasai woman Lilian Seenoi-Bar winning a seat for the nationalist SDLP.