Michelle O’Neill has hailed Sinn Féin's stunning victory in Northern Ireland’s local government elections and has called for Stormont to be re-established.
Sinn Féin's First Minister Designate was speaking after the party won 144 council seats in the North, an increase of 39 seats, with 31 percent of first preference votes (+7.7%).
The party is now the largest in local government and in the Assembly. As for the other parties, the DUP returned with 122 seats (-0.8 %), Alliance 67 (+1.8%), UUP 54 (-3.2 %), SDLP 39 (- 3.3 %) and Others 36 seats.
Across the North, nationalist parties outpolled Unionism for the first time by 42 percent to 38 percent. DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson said his party had shored up its vote, even though unionism’s vote had fallen once more.
“Sinn Féin went into this campaign with a positive message of wanting to make politics work for all," Michelle O'Neill said.
"We asked people to vote for Sinn Féin candidates who will work hard in councils every day to deliver on the issues that matter to them. This election was an opportunity to send a clear signal.
"To support the positive leadership and a party that wants to get the Assembly up and running, deliver first class council services, support people with the cost of living crisis, and invest in the health service. The voters have now spoken."
Ms. O'Neill said Sinn Féin made breakthroughs in areas right across the North as a result of Thursday's poll.