Sinn Fein party makes gains on Democrats in Ireland election
- Author: Leroy Wright Mar 06, 2017,
Mar 06, 2017, 7:13
The Ulster Unionists and nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), which have presented themselves as an alternative cross-community partnership, are bidding to wrest control away from the fractious former allies. However, Sinn Féin continues to call for Arlene Foster's resignation as DUP party leader while a full investigation of the heating scandal is carried out; if no government is formed Northern Ireland could return to what is called "direct rule" from London.
"I hope that numbers turn out, big numbers and that the result will be clear there can be an assembly and an executive put together", he said of the election. The DUP has rejected this outright, but a Sinn Fein victory might force her to go.
Ultimately, the DUP are the party most likely to decide that a second election is in their interests.
"Catastrophic election for unionism; triumph for nationalism".
Sinn Fein's leader Michelle O'Neill told journalists it was an "amazing day" as her party benefited from a jump in turnout to 65 percent, the highest since the first assembly elections immediately after the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement.
With the prospect of a hard land border dividing the island of Ireland, the Sinn Féin president said the Stormont Assembly poll was a mandate for Northern Ireland to receive special designated status within the EU.
Sinn Fein has pushed for Northern Ireland to bring in same-sex marriage and abortion is specific, restricted cases - both things which are now illegal there.
The former first minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster has said she will on Monday lead the Democratic Unionists into negotiations aimed at rebuilding power sharing in the region.
With 37 of the 90 seats returned, Sinn Fein had won 16 and the DUP 10.
"It was a tough election campaign and I'm deeply disappointed that we lost Brenda Hale, particularly in the circumstances where the Ulster Unionist Party votes transferred to Pat Catney in greater numbers and ensured that a unionist seat was lost to nationalism as a effect".
Sinn Fein say they will not enter government if the DUP nominates Foster to become first minister again.
Northern Ireland voted to stay in the European Union but was overruled by a majority vote to leave in Britain as a whole.
Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, Mike Nesbitt, resigned from his position because of the UUP's poor performance and it is unclear whether the new leadership of the UUP will support members signing petitions of concern in order to block marriage equality. The remaining 11 seats are held by non-sectarian parties: eight for the liberal Alliance, two Greens, and one Trotskyist.