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Sinn Fein will win his first election victory in Northern Ireland WGN Radio 720

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BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) – The Irish nationalist Sinn Féin party was expected to become the largest group in the Northern Ireland Assembly for the first time, and the vote count will resume on Saturday.

Shin Fein’s election victory would be a milestone for a party long associated with the Irish Republican Army, a paramilitary group that used bombs, bullets and other forms of violence to try to bring Northern Ireland out of British rule over decades of unrest. It would also bring Sinn Fein’s ultimate goal, a united Ireland, closer.

But the party kept such issues on the agenda during a campaign dominated by more immediate issues, namely the rapid rise in the cost of living.

If Shin Finn wins, he will be eligible to be the first minister in Belfast for the first time since Northern Ireland was founded as a Protestant majority in 1921.

Of the 47 seats counted so far out of 90, the results show that Sinn Fein has 18 seats, while the Democratic Unionist Party, which is the largest in the Northern Ireland Assembly for two decades, has 12.

The centrist Alliance Party, which defines itself as neither nationalist nor unionist, is seeing a surge of support and still has eight seats.

Under a separation of government system in Northern Ireland established by a 1998 peace agreement that ended decades of Catholic-Protestant conflict, the posts of prime minister and deputy prime minister are divided between the largest unionist party and the largest nationalist party.

Both positions must be filled for the government to function, but the Democratic Unionist Party has suggested it cannot work under Prime Minister Sinn Fein.

The DUP has also said it will refuse to join the new government unless there are major changes to the post-Brexit border agreements known as the Northern Ireland Protocol, which many unions oppose.

Vice President Sinn Fein Michel O’Neill said the party wants to work “in partnership with others.”

“This is the only way we can achieve much, much more for the people here, whether in terms of the cost of living crisis and trying to fix our health service,” she said.

The full results of the election, which uses a system of proportional representation, were expected later over the weekend.

The new lawmakers will meet next week to try to form an executive branch. If none is formed within six months, the administration will fall apart, causing new elections and even more uncertainty.

https://wgnradio.com/news/international/sinn-fein-set-for-first-win-in-northern-ireland-election/

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