It is time for Northern Ireland to free itself from absolute dependence on Britain. The time for economic and political prosperity in Northern Ireland has come. Sinn Fein’s historic victory can be called the end of British rule over Ulster. There will certainly be much controversy over the differences between Sinn Fein and London’s economic, political and social views on NI protocol, tax policies, and Immigration.
The Election Result of Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland.
The Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein is poised to become the largest group in the Northern Ireland Assembly for the first time, giving it the right to the post of the first minister in Belfast, according to vote counting results Saturday from this week’s local election. Sinn Fein win has become historic because Unionist parties have led the legislature since Northern Ireland was formed as a Protestant-majority state in 1921. An election victory would bring the party’s ultimate goal of a united Ireland closer. It’s a milestone for a party long linked to the Irish Republican Army. This paramilitary group used bombs and bullets to take Northern Ireland out of UK rule during decades of violence involving Irish republican militants, Protestant Loyalists paramilitaries and the UK army and police. With more than two-thirds of 90 seats counted so far, results on Saturday showed that Sinn Fein has 23 seats, while the Democratic Unionist Party has 21.
The centrist Alliance Party, which doesn’t identify as either nationalist or unionist, has seen support surge and is set to be the other big winner of this year’s local UK elections. It has 15 seats so far. While a Sinn Fein win would be a historic shift that shows diminishing support for unionist parties, it’s far from clear what happens next. Under a mandatory power-sharing system created by the 1998 peace agreement that ended decades of Catholic-Protestant conflict, the jobs of the first minister and deputy first minister are split between the biggest unionist party and the largest nationalist one. Both posts must be filled for a government to function, but the Democratic Unionist Party has suggested it might not serve under a Sinn Fein first minister. The DUP has also said it will refuse to join a new government unless there are significant changes to post-Brexit border arrangements, known as the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Sinn Fein’s victory brings a New Era to Northern Ireland.
A “new era” has started in Northern Ireland with a historic election victory of Sinn Fein, the Irish nationalist party once referred to as the political wing of the Irish Republican Army. In last Thursday’s election, Sinn Fein won most of the seats in the 90-seat local parliament, otherwise known as the Assembly or Stormont, for the first time since the foundation of Northern Ireland as a state in 1921. According to Saturday evening results, the nationalist party won 27 of the 90 seats, and the DUP won 24, with two more seats pending. The party’s victory meant the end of the rule of the Royalist Protestants who forever wanted to be part of the UK, unlike Sinn Fein, the representatives of Irish Catholics who would like to see their country unified with the Republic of Ireland.
“This has been a historic election,” Michelle O’Neill, Sinn Fein’s vice president, said in her victory speech on Saturday. Hailing “an election of real change,” she signalled a change for the country, which may now fast head to unification with the Republic of Ireland. On Twitter, O’Neill wrote that “a new era begins” in response to a congratulatory message from Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who has had ideas of separating her country from the UK after Brexit and came out victorious, too, in the recent elections.
The internationally-signed Belfast Agreement guarantees a public vote in Northern Ireland on merging the two Irelands. The result gives Sinn Fein the right to hold the post of the first minister in Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government, with the DUP taking the deputy first minister role.
But it’s unlikely that a government will be set up smoothly soon. Under Northern Ireland’s delicate power-sharing system, the first minister and deputy first minister posts have equal status. Both seats must be filled for a government to be formed. While Sinn Fein is ready to nominate Northern Ireland leader Michelle O’Neill as the first minister, the DUP says it will not follow suit unless there are significant changes to post-Brexit border arrangements that undermine Northern Ireland’s place in the UK.
How confident is Irish reunification now?
Irish unity did not play a significant role in this year’s Northern Ireland election campaign, dominated by more immediate worries, especially a cost-of-living crisis driven by the soaring food and fuel costs. But it remains Sinn Fein’s goal, and party leader Mary Lou McDonald says a referendum in Northern Ireland could be held within a five-year framework. The 1998 Good Friday peace deal stated that Irish reunification could occur if referendums supported it in Northern Ireland and the republic.
In Northern Ireland, it appears likely that a majority of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland. There are no set rules for deciding when that threshold has been met. Complicating the picture is that Northern Ireland’s identity is in flux, with a growing number of people — especially the young — identifying as neither unionist nor nationalist. That is reflected in the strong showing of the centrist Alliance Party. There are growing calls for the power-sharing rules to be changed to reflect the move beyond Northern Ireland’s traditional religious and political divide.
However, after the impressive win, Sinn Fein called for a debate on Northern Ireland. “Today represents a very significant moment of change. It’s a defining moment in our politics and for our people,” said the head of Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland, Michelle O’Neill, whose party secured 29% of first-preference votes to the DUP’s 21.3%. She said there should now be an “honest debate” around the party’s goal of unifying the territory with the Republic of Ireland. The victory will not change the region’s status, as the referendum required to leave the United Kingdom is at the discretion of the British government and likely years away. But the symbolic importance is enormous, ending a century of domination by pro-British parties, supported predominantly by the region’s Protestant population.
The election of Sinn Fein as the biggest party in Northern Ireland’s Assembly is a historic moment, the first time an Irish nationalist party, rather than a British unionist one, has topped the voting. The outcome is hugely symbolic. A party that aims to unite Northern Ireland with the neighbouring Republic of Ireland has a mandate to take the reins in a state established a century ago as a Protestant-majority region within the United Kingdom. Now It is time for Northern Ireland to free itself from absolute dependence on Britain. The time for economic and political prosperity in Northern Ireland has come. Sinn Fein’s historic victory can be called the end of British rule over Ulster. There will undoubtedly be much controversy over the differences between Sinn Fein and London’s economic, political and social views on NI protocol, tax policies, and Immigration.
Northern Ireland and Scotland’s victory will defeat Johnson’s government.