Sinn Féin confirmed as largest party in Northern Ireland Assembly in historic victory
Sinn Féin has won 27 seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly, the first time ever an Irish nationalist party has emerged with the largest number of seats in the parliament.
Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O’Neill said the result “ushers in a new era” for Northern Ireland.
With two seats left, Sinn Fein is on 27 to the British nationalist DUP’s 24.
The election has also been a big victory for the Alliance Party, which has so far more than doubled its eight seats in 2017 to at least 17 this year.
Sinn Fein’s victory however may not result in Michelle O’Neill becoming First Minister, as the DUP have already suggested that they will not take part in a devolved government there while issues around the Northern Ireland Brexit Protocol remain unresolved.
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said that there were “lots of parties in lots of places in the world who decide not to go into a government, but we are committed to the political institutions”.
“I want to see the government at Westminster delivering on their commitments on the protocol,” he said. “We fought this campaign and secured a mandate from the people to go and sort out this protocol.
“That’s what we intend to do. We want the Government to act they know what they need to do. It’s time for them to step up.”
‘Here to do business’
Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald however said Northern Ireland needed to have a functioning Executive.
Speaking at the count centre in Magherafelt, Mrs McDonald said: “It has been a very successful campaign and we look forward to getting back to work and for Michelle to lead our team on Monday.
“We are here to do business. We need a functioning Executive. People are struggling and struggling badly now.
“They need relief, they need breathing space. We need the £300 million that has lain dormant, to get that into people’s pockets.
“Above all else we want to do politics by partnership. I don’t think there is any appetite for political posturing or gamesmanship at this point.
“We need good government and the kind of leadership that my friend and colleague Michelle O’Neill will bring.”
Mary Lou McDonald said she looked forward to Michelle O’Neill being nominated as First Minister at Stormont, saying that her message to unionists was “don’t be scared”.
Among the results as the count progressed today were that outgoing Stormont infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon has lost her seat. The SDLP deputy leader failed to be re-elected in the constituency of North Belfast.
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