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Sinn Féin extends polling lead over DUP before potentially historic Northern Ireland election

03 May 2022 2 minute read
Sinn Fein’s Vice-President Michelle O’Neill. Picture by Liam McBurney / PA Wire.

Sinn Féin has extended its polling lead over DUP before what could potentially be a historic election to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

According to the latest poll by the Institute of Irish Studies-University of Liverpool/The Irish News, the DUP sit six percentage points behind its rival and is now neck-and-neck with the liberal and centrist Alliance on 18.2 per cent.

While a 26.6% result would constitute a 1% dip in Sinn Féin support since the last Assembly election in 2017, the unionist DUP’s support has tanked 10% in the same period.

It leaves Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill as clear favourite to be the new first minister, but could cause an extended political crisis if the DUP come second but refuse to take up the post of deputy first minister.

Alliance, which aims to bridge the political divides between Irish and British nationalism, has enjoyed a surge in support over the past month and could emerge as the second-largest party.

Professor Peter Shirlow of the Institute of Irish Studies-University of Liverpool told the Irish News that Sinn Féin were on course to top the poll.

“On Thursday we will see people elected by the slimmest of margins and for Sinn Féin and the DUP a potential challenge from Alliance, Greens, People Before Profit and independents, who may perform much better than previously,” he said.

“In fact, if these parties can get close to 20 per cent of the overall vote then we are entering a new period in which constitutional-led politics is less attractive. If that is the case then the story of this election is the step away to parties which two decades ago could hardly must one-in-10 voters.”

The poll was based on the responses of 1,270 people surveyed between April 16-26.

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2 years ago

Whatever else Sinn Fein may be historically, if this is what the people of NI want, then let democracy have its way. It will be interesting to see how the “muscular unionists” respond. Perhaps more late historical revisions to the Big Book Of Queeny Unionist Dogma For Kids.
The DUP, if they become second, should be obligated to take up the position of deputy FM or else have that passed to the 3rd placed party. They must not be allowed to destabilise the peace.

2 years ago

What happens to the executive if Alliance is the second largest party?

Sinn Fein would provide the First Minister. But does the Deputy First Minister come from the second largest party or the largest unionist party (for cross community balance)?

2 years ago
Reply to  Paul

Have a read of it here. It’s complicated. There has to be a coalition of Nationalists and Unionists. The largest party nominates the First Minister and the largest party in the second largest community nominates the deputy First Minister. On the basis of this, I’m not sure if even if they won, the centrist Alliance would be able to take either role., since they aim to represent both Nationalists and Unionists . I’ll be glad for anyone who knows how this could pan out to weigh in

2 years ago

Unionists are contributing to their own downfall and this especially appears to be the case in Northern Ireland. On one hand you have Republicans who see themselves as exclusively Irish, and on the other you have Loyalists who see themselves as exclusively British. Both see themselves as Ulsterman/women but that is a regional identity rather than a national one. Unless your part of Northern Ireland’s ‘Third Way’, in other words an Ulster nationalist who believes that Northern Ireland should be its own country, independent from both the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. This is very much a minority… Read more »

Last edited 2 years ago by Rob
Charles L. Gallagher
2 years ago
Reply to  Rob

Oh, how right you are. No one that I know in the Republic wants a United Ireland if it means having to endure the dinosaurs from ‘The Troubles’ and they include extreme Nationalist groups among the dinosaurs!!!

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