Sinn Fein has the opportunity to become the largest party in NI councils – McDonald

Sinn Fein has the opportunity to become the largest party in councils in Northern Ireland in next month’s local government elections, Mary Lou McDonald has said.

The party president said one of the themes in the election would be “frustration” from voters at the continual DUP block on the operation of the powersharing institutions at Stormont.

Nominations will close on Monday for the poll on May 18, the first electoral test in Northern Ireland since last year’s Assembly election.

A total of 462 council seats are to be filled across 11 council areas.

The DUP is currently the largest party in local government, with 122 seats to 105 for Sinn Fein.

NI Council Elections 2023
Sinn Fein party leader Mary Lou McDonald (front center right) and the party’s vice president Michelle O’Neill (front center left) with party colleagues at the Titanic Hotel in Belfast during the launch for the Sinn Fein candidates for the NI Council Elections 2023 ( Liam McBurney/PA)

But as Sinn Fein launched its election campaign on Monday in a Belfast hotel, Mrs McDonald said her party would be running 162 candidates, more than 40% of whom will be women.

She said: “That includes areas in which Sinn Fein has never had an elected representative or indeed a candidate.

“We are very hopeful that we can make a breakthrough in councils that have no or have very little Sinn Fein representation.

That includes North Down and Ards Council where Noel Sands can make history by taking the first ever Sinn Fein council seat in the Ards peninsula.

“A huge number of our candidates are women, and not just that, but women in winnable seats.

“We have blazed a trail in the Assembly where more than 50% of our representatives are women, and we aim in this election to increase the number of female leaders at the local government level.”

Mrs McDonald said the party was aiming to replicate the result at last year’s Assembly election where Sinn Fein overtook the DUP for the first time.

She added: “This election provides an opportunity for Sinn Fein to become the largest party in local government for the first time here in the north.”

The Sinn Fein leader referenced the ongoing Stormont stalemate. An executive has not been formed due to a DUP protest at post-Brexit trading arrangements.

She said: “I think there is also a sense that the DUP have enjoyed the patience of others for some time now. I think people are fair and people are reasonable, but there is undoubtedly now a frustration at the fact that we still have no government here in the north.

“We have raised before our concern that there would be further drift, so I think one of the big messages in this election campaign coming from people of all political persuasions will be get back to work, the time is now.

“We hope the DUP hears that message.”

NI Council Elections 2023
Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O’Neill said the council elections were an opportunity to send out a signal to the DUP (Liam McBurney/PA)

Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O’Neill said the election was an opportunity to send a signal to the DUP.

She said: “Since one day after the assembly election, we have been ready to form the executive and work with others to deliver the real change that people went to the polls and voted for.

“It is unacceptable that one party continues to block the formation of an executive and stall progress on the important work that needs to be done.

“The election on May 18 is an opportunity to send a clear signal.”

Councils in Northern Ireland provide a range of services including waste collection and disposal, local planning, street cleaning, sport and leisure services, and parks and open spaces.

The elections on May 18 will use the single transferable vote (STV) system.

Denial of responsibility! is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – The content will be deleted within 24 hours.
Andrew Naughtie

News reporter and author at @websalespromo