Sinn Fein will be the largest party in Northern Ireland’s local elections

The Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein will win the most seats in the Northern Ireland local elections

LONDON — Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein will win the most seats in Northern Ireland’s local elections, repeating last year’s parliamentary election success when it became the region’s largest party for the first time.

Sinn Fein, which seeks the unification of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, won around 400 of the 462 local government seats in 128 seats on Saturday, making breakthroughs in some areas. It has overtaken its main rival, the Democratic Unionist Party, or DUP, which has won 111 seats so far.

“We are now heading towards a very important election result,” Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O’Neill said.

According to the party, its success is a message to voters that the power-sharing government in Northern Ireland, which has been paralyzed for more than a year, must get back to business.

“We need to double down on bringing back the executive and relaunching our councils,” O’Neill told the BBC.

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The semi-autonomous government in Belfast has been suspended since the DUP, which wants Northern Ireland to be part of the UK, walked out more than a year ago against a post-Brexit customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Under the power-sharing rules established by the 1998 Good Friday Peace Agreement, the main British Unionist and Irish Nationalist parties must govern together.

Sinn Fein secured the largest number of seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly in May 2022 with a historic victory. It was the first time they had defeated the DUP, which had dominated the legislature for two decades.