A Sinn Féin coronation after a “tsunami” election

Posted By: May 21, 2023



Distributed to Congress by Irish National Caucus


“It must be emphasized that the attached article is not by the Public Relations Department of some Fenian or revolutionary group in Ireland, not by Sinn Fein, and not by the Irish National Caucus—but by BBC. Yes, that BBC! BRITISH BROADCASTING CORPORATION… And some say miracles cannot happen!—Fr. Sean Mc Manus.

A Sinn Féin coronation after a “tsunami” election


Enda McClafferty. BBCNI. Belfast. Sunday, May 21, 2023.

In the end, it was more a coronation for Sinn Féin than a contest.

Crowned local government kingpins without even breaking a sweat.

From the moment the first ballot box was opened the party was on course to make history.

But not even Sinn Féin predicted the scale of its success.

Sweeping to victory with a staggering 144 seats, leaving the once-dominant DUP trailing 22 seats behind.

Almost one in every three votes cast went to Sinn Féin and it picked up new seats in 10 of the 11 super councils.

Even in the council where it suffered its greatest loss last time – Derry and Strabane – the party secured seats for all of its 18 candidates.

Along the way, Sinn Féin also picked up some trophy seats in the unionist heartlands of Ballymena, Lurgan, and Coleraine.

A “green wave”

But this was a council election that had nothing to do with councils.

This was a poll played out against the backdrop of the Stormont stalemate.

Both Sinn Féin and Alliance framed their campaigns around making Stormont and politics work.

That message hit home with those voters frustrated at the lack of devolved government at a time when so many of them are struggling in the cost-of-living crisis and fearing further budget cuts coming down the line.

These were easy campaigns to run, centered on a clear message.

But Sinn Féin had an added advantage.

The DUP’s Stormont boycott, which is effectively blocking Michelle O’Neill from becoming the first minister, helped mobilize the nationalist vote.

For the first time, nationalists outpolled unionists in first preference votes – it was roughly 40%, slightly higher than the unionist vote at about 38%. …

According to the SDLP, the DUP’s stance played into the hands of Sinn Féin.

Hence the party framed its campaign around a would-be first minister willing to work for all if only she was allowed.

To quote Naomi Long the Sinn Féin surge was like a “tsunami” which caught the other parties by surprise.

Such was the size of the green wave, it left some unionists bewildered.