Sinn Fein urges EU to back united Ireland bid after poll surge

Sinn Fein wants a central role in power after winning 24,5%, the largest of any party

Sinn Fein called on the European Union on Tuesday to back its bid for a united Ireland after a surge in support saw it become the second-largest party in parliament at weekend elections.

The result has shaken up the political landscape in the EU member state, with Sinn Fein – once shunned because of its links to IRA paramilitaries – also the second biggest party across the border in British-ruled Northern Ireland.

When counting from Saturday’s poll finished in the early hours of Tuesday morning, the nationalist left-wing Sinn Fein had secured 37 of the 160 seats in the Dail, Ireland’s lower house of parliament.

Center-right party Fianna Fail was only one seat ahead with 38 while Prime Minister Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael took 35 – a result likely to topple the premier from office.

If a new government is to be formed when the Dail reconvenes on February 20, it must contain multiple parties. Talks have already begun to thrash out a coalition.

Sinn Fein wants a central role in power after winning 24.5 percent of first preferences in Ireland’s single transferable vote system – the largest of any party.

Its leader Mary Lou McDonald has already talked to smaller left-wing parties to try to determine whether it is possible to form a government without the two main center-right parties.

Read more: AFP