Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein won the most seats in Northern Ireland’s local elections, according to the full tally released on Sunday.
People across Northern Ireland voted on Thursday to elect new local councils. More than 1.38 million people were registered to vote, with a turnout of 54 percent.
In all, candidates competed for 462 seats in 11 local councils. With all seats counted, Sinn Fein secured 144 seats, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) took 122 seats, with the Alliance Party in third place.
Northern Ireland’s councils are responsible for setting rates, planning and waste collection, as well as leisure services and parks.
Sinn Fein is now the largest party at the Northern Ireland council level and in Stormont, or the Northern Ireland Assembly, for the first time. Sinn Fein captured the largest number of seats in Stormont in May 2022, beating the DUP, which had long dominated the legislature.
Sinn Fein’s Vice President Michelle O’Neill described the local elections result as “historic” and called on the DUP to end its boycott of power-sharing at Stormont.
In opposition to post-Brexit trade rules in the region, the DUP has boycotted Northern Ireland’s devolved government for over a year, paralyzing its power-sharing institutions at Stormont and raising concerns over political stability.
Signed in 1998 following three decades of conflict, the landmark Belfast Agreement established a power-sharing system of government, including an Executive and Assembly. It underpins Northern Ireland’s peace, constitutional settlement and institutions.
Britain’s ruling Conservative party lost over 1,000 seats in local elections across England earlier this month. ■