SF gains in NI vote as turnout highest since 1998

First time voter Thomas Copeland

But Chris Donnelly, a Northern Ireland political analyst, said the nationalist surge had been motivated by a sense that Foster and her party were "not buying into the ethos of power-sharing".

After being elected in her Fermanagh and South Tyrone constituency, Mrs Foster said: "I think it's very clear that was absolutely not about RHI".

On Sunday, Prime Minister Theresa May and Taoiseach Enda Kenny ordered ministers to open urgent negotiations with the parties after the poll radically altered the face of the Stormont Assembly, ending for the first time the overall unionist majority.

Sinn Féin has said the party won't work the DUP if Arlene Foster is nominated to retain her position as First Minister.

The U.K. may have to reimpose direct rule on the region if the two biggest parties can not agree to enter government together again.

"People seem to be more engaged on the Republican side to come out and vote", said Bill White, managing director at Lucid Talk. The North voted to remain in the bloc and its agriculture-based economy makes it especially vulnerable to higher trade tariffs that may follow if Britain leaves the EU's single market.

After a successful election for Sinn Féin, the ten-seat advantage held by the DUP has been reduced to one.




Talks aimed at resuming power-sharing in Northern Ireland are taking place today.

"It's a mess", said Jonathan Tonge, a politics professor and expert on Northern Ireland at the University of Liverpool.

The decision to leave creates a big problem in Northern Ireland, with its busy and open border with the Republic of Ireland now set to become an external European Union border. Following last week's election, unionist parties lost their absolute majority for the first time since partition in 1921. If they fail to do so within that time frame, another election will be called.

The election was called in January after Martin McGuinness, of Sinn Fein, the biggest republican party, resigned as deputy first minister. In Northern Ireland this is remarkable.

Sinn Fein may even use the election result to push for a referendum on Irish unity, even though such a request is likely to be rejected.

Those who voted Sinn Fein may well have ensured that Northern Ireland is governed by an English Conservative direct rule minister instead of a joint unionist/nationalist Northern Ireland Executive as we had foreseen when we negotiated the Belfast Agreement.

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