Would a Sinn Fein election victory lead to the unification of Ireland?

Sinn Fein warns Boris to prepare for the break-up of UK

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Sinn Fein and its Stormont leader Michelle O’Neill are poised to take Northern Ireland’s top spot in this year’s elections. The party has seen its popularity surge in recent months while the DUP struggles to maintain a delicate grip on the First Ministership. A Sinn Fein win would mark a historic first for Northern Ireland and send a powerful message to Westminster.

Would a Sinn Fein victory lead to Irish unification?

Sinn Fein has said it is “confident” that it can pull the rug from under the DUP and become Northern Ireland’s largest party.

If they take the top spot, Sinn Fein has a mandate to form its own Northern Executive.

But the DUP’s objection to the Northern Ireland Protocol has left an obstacle in the way.

DUP leadership championed dismantling the protocol – which they believe separates Northern Ireland and mainland Britain – in their campaign.

Sinn Fein has not objected in the same way, advocating instead that Stormont should respect the terms agreed by the UK and EU.

Under the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, the only viable governments are cross-party coalitions.

The DUP has refused to set up a new executive until the issue is resolved, and there remains speculation that the party might refuse to serve in a deputy capacity to Sinn Fein.

Even if Sinn Fein can eventually broker the Government it needs to enact its manifesto, the path to a united Ireland is a long one.

The party doesn’t get the final say in reunifying the country, as Westminster must first permit a referendum.

The British Government can only call a referendum when polling shows the movement for reunification has a chance of winning.

The referendum is a two-way street, as it would also require the south to hold one of its own.

Reunification can only come once both of those referendums show the proposal has majority support.

There is not currently a timeline for when this could take place.

But Ms O’Neill has urged the Republic of Ireland government to prepare.

Ahead of the elections earlier this week, she told Sky News that the countries are “closer than we’ve ever been” to reunification.

In a message to the Irish Government, she said: “Now is the time for them to make the preparation”.

Ms O’Neill added the preparations for a referendum on Ireland would require the Government to learn from Brexit.

Irish leaders should “make the preparation” and start to have a “healthy conversation about things that matter every day to people”.

She added: “If that last couple of years of Brexit has taught us anything, it’s that the Tories will never prioritise the interests of people here, whether you be Unionist, Nationalist, or other.”

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