UK elections: Pro-Palestinian Sinn Fein becomes Northern Ireland's biggest party in parliament

UK elections: Pro-Palestinian Sinn Fein becomes Northern Ireland's biggest party in parliament
Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein is set to become Northern Ireland's biggest party following the UK local elections on Thursday.
2 min read
10 May, 2022
Mary Lou McDonald, who is known for being supportive of the Palestinian cause, celebrates Sinn Fein's victory in Northern Ireland, where it claimed 27 seats [Getty]

Pro-Palestinian party Sinn Fein is set to become Northern Ireland’s biggest, following the UK local and regional elections results on Friday.

It made history by becoming the first nationalist party to win the most seats in the Northern Irish assembly, edging the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to second place, reported Sky News.

Sinn Fein, which is active in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, won a total of 27 seats and topped the first preference vote by 29 percent, which will position deputy leader Michelle O’Neill to become the region’s first nationalist minister.

Leader of the opposition and the party’s president Mary Lou McDonald said of the victory: "This place [Stormont] was organised more than a century ago to ensure that a Michelle O’Neill would never occupy the position of first minister, so it’s a great moment for equality," according to The Guardian.

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McDonald, and Sinn Fein as a whole, have a history of solidarity with the Palestinian cause, and have condemned Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, as well its brutality in the besieged Gaza Strip.

McDonald famously displayed the Palestinian flag as her Twitter profile picture for almost a year, as Palestinians faced with home expulsions and Israeli military aggression last year.

She has made several posts bringing attention to the 2021 war on Gaza, calling for the end of Israel’s occupation of Palestine and has also urged for Israel to be labelled as a "racist, apartheid regime" in parliament.

McDonald, who succeeded the controversial Gerry Adams as Sinn Fein’s president in 2018, has also voiced support for Irish author Sally Rooney, who declined an offer from an Israeli publisher to have her novel "Beautiful World Where Are You" translated into Hebrew, citing her support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Meanwhile, in May last year, Sinn Fein brought forward a motion labelling Israel’s actions in Palestine as a "de-facto annexation", making the Republic of Ireland the first European nation to do so.