Sinn Fein Set to Prevail Over DUP in Northern Ireland Assembly Election

© AP Photo / Peter MorrisonA Sinn Fein election poster hangs from a lamp post in West Belfast, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, May 3, 2022
A Sinn Fein election poster hangs from a lamp post in West Belfast, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, May 3, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 05.05.2022
On 5 May, voters are casting ballots to elect the new Northern Ireland Assembly, in an event that was preceded by opinion polls indicating the Sinn Fein’s substantial leadership over the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
Sinn Fein may become the first Irish nationalist party to win the most seats in Northern Ireland in Thursday’s Assembly election, according to UK media outlets.
The Telegraph did not rule out that Sinn Fein, the former political wing of the IRA, an Irish nationalist group, would achieve a historic election victory despite warnings from their rivals, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), that Sinn Fein is planning a referendum on Irish reunification by stealth.
During its election campaign, the reunification-leaning party repeatedly called for curbs to be made to the growing cost of living and an reduction in NHS queues, while downplaying reports of an immediate border poll.
According to the Telegraph, the success of this campaign could result in Sinn Feign Vice President Michelle O'Neill claiming the post of First Minister of Northern Ireland for the first time since its Assembly was established in 1998.
A polling station signpost lies on the pavement, in Twickenham, England (File) - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.05.2022
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The newspaper cited Katy Hayward, a professor of political sociology at Queen's University Belfast, as relaying “a moderation of nationalist rhetoric” in Northern Ireland.

“Sinn Fein understand the need for a broader appeal and the majority of their supporters are more concerned about long queues for healthcare and the cost of living than a border poll,” she argued.

Hayward also asserted that “It is not that so much that support for Sinn Fein has risen but that support for the DUP has fallen as unionism has fractured.”
She spoke as the latest opinion poll indicated that Sinn Fein is winning 26.6% of first preference votes, with the DUP and the centrist Alliance party sharing second place with 18.2% of the votes each.
With Sinn Fein clearly in the lead, many suggest that a referendum on the unification of Northern Ireland and Ireland, which is related to the 1998 Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, seems to be in the making. The Belfast Agreement ended decades of violence in conflict-torn Northern Ireland, establishing devolved power-sharing in the area and a demilitarised Irish border.
Earlier this month, Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald refrained from giving a specific time scale for the referendum, adding at the same time that the “planning and dialogue and engagement needs to happen now”.
The party’s manifesto in turn points out that the unification of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will only be possible with public votes on both sides of the border, as the Good Friday Agreement “recognises the right of the people of the island of Ireland to bring about a united Ireland, subject to the consent of both parts”.

“The only people not talking about Irish Unity are the government. The institutions in the north are back up and running, we need a national forum, a citizens Assembly to have the discussion and we need to start the planning for the Unity referendum,” the document notes.

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