Northern Ireland Goes to Polls After Government Collapse

Sinn Fein has cut the DUP's 10-seat Stormont advantage to a single seat in its best performance in Northern Ireland election history. In a contest with 1.25 million voters and more than 800,000 ballots cast, barely more than 1,000 votes split the main parties - making it the assembly's closest election yet.

Under power-sharing rules which came in after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement to bring peace after The Troubles, the two leading parties now have three weeks to form a government together, otherwise Northern Ireland will be directly ruled by Westminster - something which hasn't happened for ten years.

However, due to widespread frustration with the impasse between the two biggest parties, they will both be prepared for losing votes to their more moderate counterparts: the nationalist SDLP, unionist UUP and the cross-community Alliance Party.

The people of Northern Ireland, the majority of whom voted to remain, clearly need a strong, stable government to represent their interests during the Brexit negotiations.

It took 27 seats, with its share of first preference votes rising by almost 4%.

Michelle O'Neill, who took over from the retiring McGuinness as Sinn Fein's leader in Northern Ireland, was elected on the first count in her constituency. Sinn Fein disarmed in 2005.

Northern Ireland's voters go to the polls on Thursday as the future of the province's administration hangs in the balance.

The reimposition of direct rule from London is on the cards if the post-election talks fail.

The snap poll was called after Sinn Féin effectively collapsed the devolved institutions, in protest at Arlene Foster's handling of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) - an mis-handled green energy scheme that left Stormont facing a potential overspend of nearly £500 million.

There are concerns among some businesses that the move will damage the economy of Northern Ireland, with pharmaceuticals moving to the Republic of Ireland, even though proponents point to benefits like freedom from European Union regulation.

THE FIRST RESULTS DECLARATIONS HAVE FOUND A SURGE in turnout for Northern Ireland's assembly elections, as counting begins. One DUP Member of the Legislative Assembly compared Sinn Fein to ISIS, saying there had always been an affiliation between the party and terrorist groups like the IRA and ISIS.

Whilst Sinn Fein are the unquestionable primary victors of this election, the SDLP will also have many reasons to cheer.

While Sinn Féin virtually held their tally in a smaller legislature, a dip in the DUP vote meant a substantial drop in seats.

May said she saw no economic case for the United Kingdom to break up and dismissed Sturgeon's fears that the government in London could use Brexit as an excuse to take back powers from her government in Edinburgh.

  • Leroy Wright