Sinn Fein, the Northern Ireland anti-British party, hailed its first victory in the Northern Ireland regional assembly, immediatly calling for an “honest debate” aound the party’s goal of unifying the territory with the Republic of Ireland.
Sinn Fein was ahead of the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) by 27 to 24 seats with two left to declare, making it the first Irish nationalist party to become the largest in the devolved assembly.
The victory will not change the region’s status, as the referendum required to leave the United Kingdom is at the discretion of the British government and likely years away.
But the symbolic importance is huge, ending a century of domination by pro-British parties, supported predominantly by the region’s Protestant population.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who is also leading a campaign to secede from the United Kingdom, was among the first to congratulate Sinn Fein in a Twitter post that hailed a “truly historic result.”
Euractiv | Sinn Fein calls for united Ireland debate after historic election win