Sinn Féin tops poll in the Irish general election

If you're following the Irish general election count today, I recommend Newstalk for discussion and RTE for results.
Sinn Féin look to have won the popular vote, but a lack of candidates means they may not overtake Fianna Fail and Fine Gael on seats. It's too early to say whether they will end up in government, or whether FF and FG will be forced into a new deal with each other.
Nevertheless, some Brexit watchers are already predicting Sinn Féin's increased prominence will provide rhetorical ammunition for British Conservatives during negotiations over the future relationship between Britain and the EU.
The risk in that reaction is that it could fuel Sinn Fein in the North, helping it to overtake the DUP as the largest party. SF had mixed results at the last Westminster election, and its abstentionist position was a particular factor in its loss of a seat in Derry to the SDLP.
Now, however, SF is close to a level of power that no other party in Northern Ireland can aspire to, transcending even the influence exercised by the DUP in the last Westminster parliament. Being in government on both sides of the border has been SF's long term aim since the beginning of the peace process three decades ago. After this election, that prospect looks closer than ever.
The return of a functioning Stormont executive means that the first meeting of the North South Ministerial Council since 2016 should be in prospect. At this moment, it's possible Sinn Féin ministers could be on both sides of the table.






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