Northern Ireland Assembly election: Voters go to polls

04 March, 2017, 00:35 | Author: Ora Austin
  • Northern Ireland Assembly election: Voters go to polls

Foster had instigated the scheme when she was the province's economy minister.

Daithi McKay of Sinn Féin claimed the election had "motivated and reawakened a dormant nationalist vote".

The scandal caused the collapse of the country's power-sharing agreement, with Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness resigning as Deputy First Minister.

Turnout figures from Thursday's polls showed the election got voters motivated.

SDLP Leader and Foyle Assembly candidate Colum Eastwood has pledged to urgently address regional economic imbalance and the lack of job creation in Derry - which has characterised a decade of Sinn Fein-DUP in power and its failure to deliver for the city.

Emergency elections were called in the hope of electing a fresh government that would agree to share power, but Sinn Fein and the DUP have been returned as the leading nationalist and unionist parties respectively, pushing power-sharing into deep uncertainty.

"Therefore, this election is a critical moment for power-sharing and for the retention of devolved government".

If fences cannot be mended between Sinn Fein and the DUP after the elections, the assembly's executive could be suspended and the province fully governed from London.

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They registered a half-century stand off 27 deliveries before Morgan was run out at the non-striker's end in the final over. Kieran Powell failed in his comeback game, getting a leading edge to give Liam Plunkett a wicket in his first over.

Final results are not expected until tomorrow at the earliest.

The number of seats up for grabs in the Northern Irish Assembly has been reduced from 108 to 90, with the number of MLAs being determined by the single transferable vote system, a form of proportional representation.

The last opinion poll ahead of the vote, of 1,580 people surveyed online by LucidTalk between Friday and Sunday, put the DUP on 26 per cent and Sinn Fein on 25 per cent.

It was the highest turnout since the first election after 1998 peace accords that re-established devolved government in Northern Ireland.

"We're up for going back into government but only on the basis of equality, respect and integrity", new Sinn Fein leader Michelle O'Neill said.

It follows months of splintering relations culminating a row over a botched renewable heating initiative.

While the Assembly election will not change how Theresa May's Government treats talks to leave the European Union, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is a key Brexit issue. Irish nationalists support a united Ireland, and want a "border poll" on unification. Yet rather than returning resolving the impasse, the electorate appears to have produced even starker division, raising concerns that direct rule of Northern Ireland from London may now be inevitable.



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