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Sinn Féin won local elections in Northern Ireland

The pro-Irish Sinn Féin party continued its success from last year in local elections on Saturday. For the first time, the party is also the largest locally in Northern Ireland.

In May last year Sinn Féin for the first time became the largest party in the Stormont People’s Assembly in Belfast, where pro-British trade unionists had been in the majority since 1921.

Sinn Féin is close to around 31% support in the local elections and won 137 of the 462 seats in contention. In comparison, the unionist DUP party won 118 seats. 16 places are still up for grabs.

– Historic change is underway, and Sinn Féin is leading change across Ireland, said Northern Ireland party leader Michelle O’Neill.

After last year’s general elections, the unionist DUP party refused to take part in a new coalition government with Sinn Féin.

Power-sharing in Northern Ireland is based on a system created under the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, which ended decades of violent conflict between Protestants and Catholics. The two highest government posts – prime minister and second minister – are to be split between the largest unionist party and the largest nationalist party.

Both positions must be filled for the government to function, and when the DUP does not want to participate, the region is left without self-governing authority.

O’Neill said on Saturday that voters wanted the boycott to end.

(© NTB)

Adele Matthews

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