London, May 8
The UK and Irish Governments have urged rival parties in Northern Ireland to come together to resurrect its power-sharing government after Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein scored a historic victory in local elections to become the biggest party in Northern Ireland’s Assembly on Saturday.
Sinn Fein, which seeks union with Ireland, won 27 seats in the 90-seat legislature, beating the Democratic Unionist Party, which secured 25 seats. It’s the first time in Northern Ireland’s history that an Irish nationalist party has topped the voting.
But it’s not clear whether Sinn Fein will lead a new government because of Northern Ireland’s delicate power-sharing politics and ongoing tussles over the legacy of Britain’s exit from the European Union.
While Sinn Fein’s vice-president Michelle O’Neill now has the right to the post of first minister, a functioning Northern Ireland Executive — or devolved government — cannot be formed unless the largest unionist party agrees to join in the role of deputy first minister.