Election piles on pressure for a border poll
Election piles on pressure for a border poll


Nationalist voters now clearly outnumber unionists according to election counts which have concluded in the North’s council elections.

As a result of clearly accelerating demographic change, nationalist voters now outnumber unionists by 42% to 38%. The result poses a huge question for both the London and Dublin governments about when they will honour the Good Friday Agreement commitment to hold a referendum on Irish reunification.

Sinn Féin is now officially the largest party in local government after winning the most seats with 144, up from the 105 candidates returned in 2019, and far ahead of the unionist DUP, which has so far held onto its 122 councillors. The Alliance Party, which came third in the 2022 assembly election, has increased its number of councillors, with 67 so far returned, a gain of 14.

The UUP has lost 21 councillors to 54, while the SDLP lost 20 councillors to 39. The Green Party lost its second leader in 12 months, halving its strength to three councillors, while People before Profit is also down to two councillors from five in 2019.

Veteran loyalist Billy Hutchinson lost his single seat for the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) in Belfast to the Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV).

In dramatic and continuing results today, Sinn Féin won control of Fermanagh and Omagh council, and succeeded in electing all 18 of its candidates to Derry and Strabane Council and gaining four in Belfast. In Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon, it is now the largest party for the first time.

The party’s deputy leader Michelle O’Neill described the result as a response to the DUP’s refusal to operate the powersharing institutions since Sinn Féin became the largest party at the Stormont Assembly last year.

Ms O’Neill said Sinn Féin’s council campaign was about “positive leadership, it was about a restoration of the executive, it as about making politics work”.

People have “very much engaged,” she told the BBC. She said the party’s message had “resonated with the electorate and they have come out in such strong numbers that we are now on course to have a very momentous election result.

“It is now obviously about what we are going to do next. In my opinion we need to double down in terms of getting an executive restored and getting our councils up and running again.

“But those councils will always do better when they are working in tandem with the locally elected ministers who support councils.”

Her party made gains against all the parties, with only Alliance increasing its strength significantly since the last local elections in 2019.

With all first preferences counted, Sinn Féin has won 30.9% (up 7.7%), the DUP 23.3% (down 0.8%), Alliance 13.3% (up 1.8%), the UUP 10.9% (down 3.2%), the SDLP 8.7% (down 3.3%), the TUV 3.9% (up 1.7%), the Green Party 1.7% (down 0.4%), People befre Profit 1.0% (down 0.4%), and Aontú 1.0% (down 0.1%).

Independent republicans, not included above, were the only other nationalist group to boost their support amid the surge for Sinn Féin. All outgoing candidates were returned, with the addition of Kevin McElvogue in the Clogher Valley area of Mid-Ulster council, where the independent republican share of the vote went from 5.5% to 7.7%.

Despite holding onto their vote, Aontú narrowly failed to elect any councillor. Party leader Peadar Tóibín thanked his supporters said there had been “a significant wave for SF, amplified by the unDemocratic Unionist Party boycott of Stormont and their refusal to accept a Nationalist First Minister. “In many areas Aontú did well and on Monday morning we will be back working for the people,” he sad.

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson, whose party saw a small decline in its vote share, brushed off calls to return to the Stormont Assembly. He said his party still wants to reverse what he describes as the removal of the north of Ireland from the United Kingdom as a result of the new trading rules.

His party’s campaign was “about ensuring that Northern Ireland’s ability to trade with the rest of the United Kingdom is not only respected but protected in law, and that our place in the union is restored,” he said.

Blaming his party’s unionist rivals for allowing Sinn Féin to become the largest, he has so far refused to discuss the significance of the new nationalist plurality. However, prominent unionist commentator Sam McBride admitted that unionism’s leadership “hasn’t even begun to confront this reality – it no longer has the numbers”.

Counting concluded on Saturday tonight. The following are the final results:

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council

Airport (complete)

Anne Marie Logue (Sinn Féin) Elected
Maighréad Ní Chonghaile (Sinn Féin) Elected

Antrim (complete)

Lucille O’Hagan (Sinn Féin) Elected

Ballyclare (complete)

Gerard Magee (Sinn Féin) Eliminated

Dunsilly (complete)

Henry Cushinan (Sinn Féin) Elected
Siobhán McErlean (Aontú) Eliminated
Annie O’Lone (Sinn Féin) Elected

Glengormley (complete)

Michael Goodman (Sinn Féin) Elected
Rosie Kinnear (Sinn Féin) Elected
Eamonn McLaughlin (Sinn Féin) Elected

Macedon (complete)

Taylor McGrann (Sinn Féin) Elected

Threemilewater (complete)

Emmanuel Mullen (Sinn Féin) Eliminated

Ards and North Down Borough Council

Ards Peninsula (complete)

Noel Sands (Sinn Féin) Eliminated

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council

Armagh (complete)

Daniel Connolly (Aontú) Eliminated
Fergal Donnelly (Sinn Féin) Elected
Sarah Duffy (Sinn Féin) Elected
Ashley Mallon (Sinn Féin) Elected
John Óg O’Kane (Sinn Féin) Elected

Banbridge (complete)

Chris McCartan (Sinn Féin) Elected
Kevin Savage (Sinn Féin) Elected

Craigavon (complete)

Jude Mallon (Sinn Féin) Elected
Catherine Nelson (Sinn Féin) Elected

Cusher (complete)

Bróna Haughey (Sinn Féin) Elected

Lagan River (complete)

Vincent McAleenan (Sinn Féin) Eliminated

Lurgan (complete)

Keith Haughian (Sinn Féin) Elected
Liam Mackle (Sinn Féin) Elected
Sorchá McGeown (Sinn Féin) Elected
Mary O’Dowd (Sinn Féin) Elected

Portadown (complete)

Paul Duffy (Sinn Féin) Elected
Claire McConville-Walker (Sinn Féin) Elected

Belfast City Council

Balmoral (complete)

Geraldine McAteer (Sinn Féin) Elected
Sean Napier (Sinn Féin) Eliminated

Black Mountain (complete)

Ciaran Beattie (Sinn Féin) Elected
Arder Carson (Sinn Féin) Elected
Michael Donnelly (Sinn Féin) Elected
Róis-Máire Donnelly (Sinn Féin) Elected
Gerard Herdman (Aontú) Eliminated
Ursula Meighan (Workers Party) Eliminated
Dan Murphy (IRSP) Eliminated
Áine McCabe (Sinn Féin) Elected
Ronan McLaughlin (Sinn Féin) Elected

Botanic (complete)

Emma-Jane Faulkner (Sinn Féin) Elected
John Gormley (Sinn Féin) Elected
Paddy Lynn (Workers Party) Eliminated

Castle (complete)

Brónach Anglin (Sinn Féin) Elected
Lily Kerr (Workers Party) Eliminated
Conor Maskey (Sinn Féin) Elected

Collin (complete)

Patrick Crossan (Workers Party) Eliminated
Joe Duffy (Sinn Féin) Elected
Matt Garrett (Sinn Féin) Elected
Caoimhín McCann (Sinn Féin) Elected
Luke McCann (Aontú) Eliminated
Julieann McNally (Independent) Eliminated
Clíodhna Nic Bhranair (Sinn Féin) Elected
Séanna Walsh (Sinn Féin) Elected

Court (complete)

Tina Black (Sinn Féin) Elected
Claire Canavan (Sinn Féin) Elected
Michael Kelly (IRSP) Eliminated
Tony Walls (Workers Party) Eliminated

Lisnasharragh (complete)

Stevie Jenkins (Sinn Féin) Eliminated

Oldpark (complete)

Nichola Bradley (Sinn Féin) Elected
JJ Magee (Sinn Féin) Elected
Ryan Murphy (Sinn Féin) Elected
Fiona McCarthy (Workers Party) Eliminated
Tomás Ó Néill (Sinn Féin) Elected

Ormiston (complete)

Caitríona Mallaghan (Sinn Féin) Eliminated

Titanic (complete)

Pádraig Donnelly (Sinn Féin) Elected

Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council

Ballymoney (complete)

Cathal McLaughlin (Independent) Eliminated
Ciarán McQuillan (Sinn Féin) Elected
Leanne Peacock (Sinn Féin) Elected

Bann (complete)

Ciarán Archibald (Sinn Féin) Elected
Sean Bateson (Sinn Féin) Elected
Gemma Brolly (Aontú) Eliminated

Benbradagh (complete)

Liam McElhinney (Aontú) Eliminated
Sean McGlinchey (Sinn Féin) Elected
Kathleen McGurk (Sinn Féin) Elected
Dermot Nicholl (Sinn Féin) Elected

Causeway (complete)

Emma Thompson (Sinn Féin) Eliminated

Coleraine (complete)

Niamh Archibald (Sinn Féin) Elected

Limavady (complete)

John Boyle (Aontú) Eliminated
Brenda Chivers (Sinn Féin) Elected

The Glens (complete)

Oliver McMullan (Sinn Féin) Elected
Cara McShane (Sinn Féin) Elected
John Robbin (Aontú) Eliminated
Maighréad Watson (Sinn Féin) Elected

Derry City and Strabane District Council

Ballyarnett (complete)

Emmet Doyle (Aontú) Eliminated
Sandra Duffy (Sinn Féin) Elected
John McGowan (Sinn Féin) Elected
Patrick Murphy (Sinn Féin) Elected

Derg (complete)

Caroline Devine (Sinn Féin) Elected
Leza Marie Houston (Aontú) Eliminated
Ruairí McHugh (Sinn Féin) Elected
Antaine Ó Fearghail (Sinn Féin) Elected

Faughan (complete)

Alex Duffy (Sinn Féin) Elected
Sean Fleming (Sinn Féin) Elected

Foyleside (complete)

Conor Heaney (Sinn Féin) Elected
Seán Mac Cearáin (Aontú) Eliminated
Grace Uí Niallais (Sinn Féin) Elected

Sperrin (complete)

Raymond Barr (Independent) Elected
Paul Boggs (Sinn Féin) Elected
Paul Gallagher (Independent) Elected
Brian Harte (Sinn Féin) Elected
Fergal Leonard (Sinn Féin) Elected
Darán Mac Meanman (Aontú) Eliminated

The Moor (complete)

Darryl Christy (Aontú) Eliminated
Gary Donnelly (Independent) Elected
Aisling Hutton (Sinn Féin) Elected
Patricia Logue (Sinn Féin) Elected
Emma McGinley (Sinn Féin) Elected

Waterside (complete)

Caitlin Deeney (Sinn Féin) Elected
Christopher Jackson (Sinn Féin) Elected

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council

Enniskillen (complete)

Dermot Browne (Sinn Féin) Elected
Tommy Maguire (Sinn Féin) Elected
Andrea McManus (Sinn Féin) Eliminated

Erne East (complete)

Sheamus Greene (Sinn Féin) Elected Noeleen Hayes (Sinn Féin) Elected
Eamon Keenan (Independent) Eliminated
Tina McDermott (Independent) Eliminated
Thomas O’Reilly (Sinn Féin) Elected

Erne North (complete)

Debbie Coyle (Sinn Féin) Elected
John Feely (Sinn Féin) Elected

Erne West (complete)

Elaine Brough (Sinn Féin) Elected
Anthony Feely (Sinn Féin) Elected
Declan McArdle (Sinn Féin) Elected
Paul McGoldrick (Independent) Eliminated

Mid Tyrone (complete)

Roisin Devine Gallagher (Sinn Féin) Elected
Anne Marie Fitzgerald (Sinn Féin) Elected
Padraigin Kelly (Sinn Féin) Elected
Patrick Withers (Sinn Féin) Elected

Omagh (complete)

Amy Ferguson (Socialist Party) Eliminated
Catherine Kelly (Sinn Féin) Elected
Marty McColgan (Sinn Féin) Elected
Barry McElduff (Sinn Féin) Elected

West Tyrone (complete)

Glenn Campbell (Sinn Féin) Elected
Ann-Marie Donnelly (Sinn Féin) Elected
Stephen McCann (Sinn Féin) Elected
Colette McNulty (Sinn Féin) Elected

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council

Castlereagh South (complete)

Daniel Bassett (Sinn Féin) Elected
Ryan Carlin (Sinn Féin) Elected

Downshire West (complete)

Siobhán Murphy (Sinn Féin) Eliminated

Killultagh (complete)

Gary McCleave (Sinn Féin) Elected

Lisburn North (complete)

Paul Burke (Sinn Féin) Elected

Lisburn South (complete)

Aisling Flynn (Sinn Féin) Eliminated

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council

Ballymena (complete)

Bréanainn Lyness (Sinn Féin) Elected

Bannside (complete)

Ian Friary (Sinn Féin) Elected

Braid (complete)

Archie Rae (Sinn Féin) Elected

Coast Road (complete)

James McKeown (Sinn Féin) Elected

Mid Ulster District Council

Carntogher (complete)

Córa Corry (Sinn Féin) Elected
Paddy Kelly (Sinn Féin) Elected
Noreen McEldowney (Aontú) Eliminated
Brian McGuigan (Sinn Féin) Elected
Sean McPeake (Sinn Féin) Elected

Clogher Valley (complete)

Gael Gildernew (Sinn Féin) Elected
Eugene McConnell (Sinn Féin) Elected
Kevin McElvogue (Independent) Elected
Seán McGuigan (Sinn Féin) Eliminated

Cookstown (complete)

Gavin Bell (Sinn Féin) Elected
Cathal Mallaghan (Sinn Féin) Elected
John McNamee (Sinn Féin) Elected
Louise Taylor (Independent) Eliminated

Dungannon (complete)

Dominic Molloy (Sinn Féin) Elected
Barry Monteith (Independent) Elected
Denise Mullen (Aontú) Eliminated
Deirdre Varsani (Sinn Féin) Elected
Marian Vincent (Independent) Eliminated

Magherafelt (complete)

Sean Clarke (Sinn Féin) Elected
Darren Totten (Sinn Féin) Elected

Moyola (complete)

Sheila Fullerton (Aontú) Eliminated
Jolene Groogan (Sinn Féin) Elected
Donal McPeake (Sinn Féin) Elected
Ian Milne (Sinn Féin) Elected

Torrent (complete)

Eimear Carney (Sinn Féin) Elected
Paul Kelly (Sinn Féin) Eliminated
Dan Kerr (Independent) Elected
Niall McAleer (Sinn Féin) Elected
Nuala McLernon (Sinn Féin) Elected
Teresa Quinn (Independent) Eliminated

Newry City, Mourne and Down District Council

Crotlieve (complete)

Mark Gibbons (Independent) Eliminated
Kate Murphy (Sinn Féin) Elected
Selina Murphy (Sinn Féin) Elected
Gerry O’Hare (Sinn Féin) Eliminated
Mickey Ruane (Sinn Féin) Elected

Downpatrick (complete)

Philip Campbell (Sinn Féin) Elected
Oonagh Hanlon (Sinn Féin) Elected
Éamonn Mac Con Midhe (Independent) Eliminated
Louise Rooney (Sinn Féin) Eliminated

Newry (complete)

Nicola Grant (Workers Party) Eliminated
Valerie Harte (Sinn Féin) Elected
Geraldine Kearns (Sinn Féin) Elected
Cathal King (Sinn Féin) Elected
Sharon Loughran (Aontú) Eliminated
Aidan Mathers (Sinn Féin) Elected

Rowallane (complete)

Dermot Kennedy (Sinn Féin) Eliminated

Slieve Croob (complete)

Jim Brennan (Sinn Féin) Elected
Roisin Howell (Sinn Féin) Elected
Rosemary McGlone (Aontú) Eliminated
Siobhán O’Hare (Sinn Féin) Elected

Slieve Gullion (complete)

Aoife Finnegan (Sinn Féin) Elected
Mickey Larkin (Sinn Féin) Elected
Oonagh Magennis (Sinn Féin) Elected
Declan Murphy (Sinn Féin) Elected
Barra Ó Muiri (Sinn Féin) Elected
Aine Quinn (Sinn Féin) Elected
Liam Reichenberg (Aontú) Eliminated

The Mournes (complete)

Willie Clarke (Sinn Féin) Elected
Leeanne McEvoy (Sinn Féin) Elected
Michael Rice (Sinn Féin) Elected

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