Flash: SF celebrate ‘election treble’; Starmer names new Direct Ruler
Flash: SF celebrate ‘election treble’; Starmer names new Direct Ruler


Sinn Féin have called for talks on Irish unity with the new Labour government in London after it emerged from a tumultuous count as the largest Six County party in Westminster and the fifth largest party in the London parliament overall.

After the conclusion of counting in the general election to the London parliament, the British Labour party were, as predicted, the runaway winners, an outcome largely due to the splitting of the right-wing vote in England between the deposed, 14-year Tory administration and the new, far-right Reform Party.

As the outgoing Prirm Minister, Rishi Sunak quietly resigned as Tory leader, Labour leader and its new PM, Keir Starmer, entered No 10 Downing Street after receiving the approval of King Charles.

One of his first appointment to his Cabinet was Hilary Benn (pictured, right), who has been made Britain’s new Direct Ruler in the north of Ireland.

Benn, from west London, is a veteran parliamentarian and a former Cabinet Minister under Tony Blair, and has represented his Leeds constituency in England since 1999. He had been the shadow Direct Ruler for the North since September 2023.

Benn has publicly opposed Tory ‘cover up’ Legacy legislation, backed reforms to powersharing at Stormont and defended his party leader’s claim that a referendum on Irish reunification is “not even on the horizon”.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin has been celebrating the ‘treble’ of becoming the North’s largest party at Westminster, as well as at Assembly and local level. Despite standing in only 14 out of 18 constituencies, Sinn Féin’s vote share increase by over 4%, helping it defend its 7 seats and falling just short of a headline-grabbing gain in East Derry.

The DUP, the largest unionist party, has dropped three seats and now hold only five overall, with Ian Paisley Jr its most famous casualty.

As the results were confirmed, Sinn Féin called for more conversations around the future of the island as a united Ireland.

Speaking to Good Morning Ulster, Stormont economy minister Mr Murphy said: “The result confirms the degree of change that’s been happening for a number of years.

“What we want to see is a structured dialogue of what the future holds. That’s one where everyone has a say and their rights protected.

“We can’t not recognise the change that’s happening. We want to see an Irish Government involved to structure that dialogue.

“I get that is a conversation that does concern some but putting our head in the sand does a disservice to the entire community.

“I would hope that more people from the unionist population become involved in that discussion, make sure that their voices are heard and make all the rest of the people on the island shape the future in a positive way. They have an important voice to be heard and we want to make sure they’re involved.”

He referred to the result in East Derry, where the DUP’s infamous MP, Gregory Campbell, barely held on as the Sinn Féin candidate Kathleen McGurk came within 179 votes after a recount.

“We were very close in East Derry and I’ve no doubt that will come again for us,” Murphy said.

“That has been growing for sometimes a little under the radar. There were more wards added in from the Derry side and Kathleen was a great candidate.

“We quietly knew that was a prospect and she was incredibly close. Maybe not a sense that the seat was there for the taking worked against us. We look forward to future gains in that constituency.”

In a statement, Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald said it was time to “prepare for a new future together on this island”.

“The voters have now spoken, and I am delighted that Sinn Féin’s seven MPs have been returned for another term,” Ms McDonald said.

“No matter what background or community people come from, Sinn Féin MPs will work hard every day to deliver on the things that matter to workers, families and businesses in every community,” she said.

“From day one, we will be knocking on the door of the British government to demand that they stop their disgraceful underfunding of our public services and of the executive here. It is now time to move forward to a new and better future.”

The following is the result of the Westminster election in the north of Ireland:

SF: 27.0% (+4.2), 7 MPs
DUP: 22.1% (-8.5), 5 MPs (down 3)
Alliance: 15.0% (-1.8), 1 MP
UUP: 12.2% (+0.5), 1 MP (up 1)
SDLP: 11.1% (-3.8), 2 MPs
TUV: 6.2% (new), 1 MP (up 1)
PBP: 1.1% (+0.2)
Green: 1.1% (+0.9)
Aontú: 1.1% (-0.1)
NI Conservatives: 0.1% (-0.6)
Ind: 3% (+2.8), 1 MP (up 1)

A detailed breakdown of the results by constituency will appear in our regular weekly bulletin.

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