Pressure on DUP to rejoin powersharing after Northern Ireland council elections see Sinn Fein become biggest party in local government
- Sinn Fein won 144 seats across 11 council areas, while the DUP won 122 seats
The DUP are under growing pressure to end their boycott of powersharing government in Northern Ireland following local election results in the region.
The unionist party saw themselves replaced by Sinn Fein as the largest party in local government after last week’s council contests.
Following a lengthy count process stretching into Sunday morning across 11 council areas, Sinn Fein emerged with 144 seats – an increase of 39 seats.
The DUP won 122 seats, the same number it won at the last local elections in 2019, while the cross-community Alliance Party won 67 seats, up by 14 seats.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP leader, is now facing calls to end his party’s boycott of the Stormont institutions as part of their protest against post-Brexit trade rules.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP leader, is facing renewed calls to end his party’s boycott of the Stormont institutions as part of their protest against post-Brexit trade rules
Sinn Fein vice-president Michell O’Neill takes a ‘selfie’ of herself, party president Mary Lou McDonald (centre) and Belfast City councillor Tina Black (right)
Ms O’Neill said there was ‘no rhyme nor reason’ for the DUP to continue their absence from the Stormont institutions
Sinn Fein vice-president Michelle O’Neill said there was ‘no rhyme nor reason’ for the DUP to continue their absence from the Northern Ireland Assembly or Executive.
She said negotiations between the UK Government and EU over updates to the Northern Ireland Protocol were now ‘complete’ following Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s signing of the Windsor Framework.
‘The DUP walked away because they said they wanted to influence the Protocol discussions and negotiations,’ Ms O’Neill told RTE yesterday.
‘Those negotiations are now complete, so there is no rhyme nor reason for them to stay out of having a locally-elected Assembly and Executive delivering good public services for people.
Sinn Fein’s local elections success in becoming the largest party in local government follows last year’s Stormont elections, in which it became the largest party in the Assembly for the first time.
Conor Murphy, one of the party’s MLAs, kept up the pressue on the DUP this morning as he claimed a significant number of people who voted for the DUP want to see the restoration of powersharing.
‘There has been a very clear view now twice in the course of a year from the electorate that they want the executive back in place, they want to see parties working together, which we want to do,’ he told the BBC.
Matthew O’Toole, an MLA from the nationalist SDLP, said the ‘overwhelming lesson’ from last week’s council elections was Northern Irish voters wanted the Stormont institutions to return.
‘This constant DUP veto and holding everyone else to ransom, it is beyond a joke at this stage,’ he told the BBC.
But DUP MP Gavin Robinson pushed back against the pressure on his party to resume powersharing immediately and hailed an ‘incredibly positive’ set of election results.
He said: ‘I think it is incredibly positive because not only do we have the same number of councillors returned, we have an increased vote in many areas across Northern Ireland.
‘More importantly, there is a recognition of the stance we have taken to resolve the impenetrable issues that have been affecting Northern Ireland’s politics over the last number of years associated with the Northern Ireland Protocol and the Windsor Framework.
‘Despite the barrage that we have faced over the last number of months, I think there is tacit recognition amongst the unionist electorate that there is a job that needs doing, it needs to be resolved and when we can get firm foundations for the restoration of devolution, we should do so.
‘Until that time comes, we have to keep on the path we are on.’
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