Sinn Fein on Track to Become Largest Party in Northern Ireland’s Local Government

Sinn Fein on Track to Become Largest Party in Northern Ireland’s Local Government

Sinn Fein is on track to become the largest party in Northern Ireland’s local government, with more than half of its council seats now filled following the recent elections. As vote counting continued for a second day, the nationalist party has secured 99 councillors, while the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) currently has 85 council seats, the Alliance Party 40, the Ulster Unionists 36, and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) 21, with 18 others.

Results from Three Council Areas

Sinn Fein has emerged as the largest party in three of the 11 council areas where counting has been completed – Lisburn and Castlereagh, Mid Ulster, and Armagh, Banbridge, and Craigavon. This marks the first time Sinn Fein has emerged as the largest party in Lisburn and Castlereagh, while the DUP has retained its position as the largest party in the area.

Proportional Representation System

The Northern Ireland polls were conducted under the system of proportional representation, known as the single transferable vote, with 462 seats to be filled. Turnout appeared to be up slightly in areas that would be regarded as predominantly nationalist/republican and down slightly in areas viewed as a unionist majority.

Call for Restoration of Powersharing

The election results mark the first electoral test for the parties since last year’s assembly elections and take place against the backdrop of deadlock at Stormont, with the powersharing institutions not operating as part of a DUP protest against post-Brexit trading arrangements. Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald said the election results showed “a very strong showing for Sinn Fein right across the north”. Party vice president Michelle O’Neill called on the British and Irish governments to come up with a plan to restore powersharing, saying that “there needs to be a plan now for a way back to a restored executive.”

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said if Sinn Fein emerges as the largest party in local government, unionism will have to “look at where it’s going”, adding that “the DUP without a shadow of a doubt is by far the largest unionist party, and I think that unionism needs to look at where it’s going and regroup around a strong voice for unionism, and see more co-operation between unionist parties.”

Northern Ireland’s councils are responsible for setting rates, planning and waste collection, as well as leisure services and parks. The election results mark a significant shift in Northern Ireland’s local government and could have implications for the region’s future political landscape.


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