Sinn Féin’s big win in Belfast hasn’t moved unity forward – POLITICO

BELFAST – Sinn Féin’s huge victory in Northern Ireland’s general election has failed to advance the goal of uniting the two parts of Ireland, Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin argued on Monday.

Martin – whose Fianna Fáil party will face an uphill battle against Sinn Féin in any Republic of Ireland election – said his opponents made little mention of the goal of Irish unification in the election campaign north of the border.


For more survey data from across Europe, see POLITICS poll of polls.

“We all support a united Ireland. Our party’s goal is a united Ireland. But it was striking, and it has to be said, that that wasn’t the mandate that Sinn Féin has been aiming for in recent weeks,” Martin said said Radio RTE in Dublin.

Martin suggested that Sinn Féin had scaled back the issue in favor of ‘bread and butter’ issues because these broaden the party’s appeal, while calls to push Northern Ireland into the Republic of Ireland do not.

Polls consistently show that most Northern Ireland voters, including a minority of Irish nationalists, do not want to leave the UK mainly for economic reasons, although they have undermined by Brexit.

“The whole [Sinn Féin] The campaign was about the cost of living, health and housing,” said Martin. “The border was buried in its documentation and manifesto. And once the votes are counted, it will come back into focus.”

Sinn Fein CEO Mary Lou McDonald did talk about prospects for an Ireland-wide referendum after her party’s record result in Northern Ireland, where the party won 29 per cent of the vote, overtaking the Democratic Unionists for the first time.

And those of Sinn Fein 20-page manifesto includes a page promoting the association. As the only Irish party contesting elections on both sides of the border, it is the only one trying to run coalition governments in both Belfast and, perhaps soon, Dublin.

It won the most votes in the 2020 general election in the Irish Republic, mirroring its breakthrough in Belfast. But the centrist old guard of Southern politics, Martin’s Fianna Fáil and Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael, agreed to forge an unprecedented pact that kept Sinn Féin in opposition. As part of their coalition agreement, Martin will swap jobs with Varadkar in December as their coalition seeks to survive until early 2025, by which time the next elections must be held.

The newest opinion poll, released Sunday, shows Martin remains the most popular political leader in the Republic of Ireland – but only just ahead of McDonald. The poll rated Sinn Féin’s popularity south of the border at 34 percent, approaching the totals of Fianna Fáil (16 percent) and Fine Gael (23 percent). Sinn Féin's big win in Belfast hasn't moved unity forward - POLITICO

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