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NI Assembly election latest: Sinn Fein on for best ever result

By belfastlive.co.uk

Sinn Fein is on course for its best ever result in a Northern Ireland Assembly election after receiving the most first-preference votes.

With counting for the 90 Stormont seats continuing on Friday evening, the republican party had won 16 seats, well ahead of the Alliance on four and the DUP and UUP on three.

Sinn Fein received 250,388 first preferences, compared with the 184,002 returned for the DUP and 116,681 for the Alliance Party.

Read more: Live NI election 2022 results tracker and map

The party's vice president Michelle O'Neill was elected on the first count in Mid Ulster, with Alliance leader Naomi Long topping the poll in East Belfast.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson was elected on the first count in Lagan Valley.

He said he was delighted with his party's performance in Lagan Valley, adding that it was too early to comment on the overall picture to say what the final outcome might be.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson is congratulated by Paul Givan (PA)

"I think it is going to be very tight at the end as to who will emerge as the largest party," he said.

"One of the key messages for me is that unionism simply can't afford the divisions that exist."

Ms O'Neill was surrounded by party colleagues and supporters as the result was announced in the Magherafelt count centre.

She received 10,845 first preference votes and the result was greeted by large cheers in the count centre.

Speaking to reporters shortly before her election was announced, Ms O'Neill said she was "very grateful" to be with the people of Mid-Ulster.

Asked about the possibility of her taking the first minister role, she said: "It is very early to say, let's get all the votes counted. I feel very positive."

She said that Sinn Fein wanted to "together work in partnership with others".

"That is the only way we will achieve much, much more for people here, whether in terms of the cost-of-living crisis or trying to fix our health service."

Read more: What happens if a Stormont minister loses their seat?

Read more: NI election results 2022: What happens if Sinn Fein wins Assembly poll

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Dive Deeper:
Sinn Fein set for best ever result in Northern Ireland Assembly election
Irish nationalist leader Michelle O’Neill vows to ‘work in partnership with others’, as DUP again demands end of protocol
Counting resumes in NI Assembly election with Sinn Fein poised for victory
Shortly before noon on Saturday, 51 of 90 seats had been filled, with only four out of 18 constituency counts…
Sinn Fein on course for historic victory in NI Assembly election
The republican party polled the most first-preference votes by a wide margin.
Sinn Fein set for best Northern Ireland Assembly election result
Sinn Fein vice-president Michelle O’Neill and the leaders of the DUP and Alliance Party were all elected on the first…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
NI election results 2022: What happens if Sinn Fein wins Assembly poll?
The Stormont election could result in a historic shift in the balance of power
Sinn Fein wins historic victory in Northern Ireland Assembly election
Party vice president Michelle O’Neill said the result ‘ushered in a new era’
Get all your news in one place