Sinn Fein calls for debate on United Ireland after historic election victory

Sinn Fein, the former political wing of the IRA, hailed its first election victory in Northern Ireland’s history as a “watershed moment” for the British-held region and called for a debate on the creation of a united Ireland. Sinn Fein won 29% of first-preference votes against 21.3% for the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), according to official results. Although the final seat count was not declared, analysts said no one could catch Sinn Fein.

“Today represents a very important moment of change. It is a defining moment in our politics and for our people,” said the leader of the party in the region, Michelle O’Neill. She said there should now be an “honest debate” around the party’s goal of unifying the territory with the Republic of Ireland.

When asked by a reporter if she expected to become the region’s first Irish nationalist prime minister, she replied: “The people have spoken”. Sinn Fein’s victory will not change the region’s status, as the referendum required to leave the UK is at the discretion of the UK government and likely to be years away.

But the symbolic implications of Irish nationalist pre-eminence are enormous, ending a century of rule by pro-British parties, supported mainly by the region’s Protestant population. The election follows demographic trends that have long indicated that pro-British Protestant parties would eventually be eclipsed by predominantly Catholic Irish nationalist parties that favor unification of the north with the Republic of Ireland.

However, the Cross-Community Alliance Party has achieved its best result ever as it attempts to establish itself as a third pillar of the political system. While the largest party has the right to nominate a candidate for prime minister of the region’s mandatory power-sharing government, disagreements with the DUP mean such a nomination could take months.

(Writing by Conor Humphries; editing by Clelia Oziel)

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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