- Created: Tuesday, 28 March 2017 08:26
- Written by Patrick Casey
2 March 2017 saw elections held to the Northern Ireland Assembly for the second time in ten months – this time around the result was quite different. Turnout overall was up almost 10% compared with May 2016 and was highest in Nationalist areas. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) was returned as the largest party – but only just. Sinn Fein’s total of first preference votes leapt by 34.5%. It finished with 27 seats to the DUP’s 28 – just over 1,000 votes separated the two. It has been hailed as the Nationalists’ greatest electoral performance in the history of the statelet – and the Unionists’ worst. Mike Nesbitt resigned as leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) before the full count was even in. DUP veterans Lord Morrow and Nelson McCausland lost their seats. Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams called it a ‘watershed election’; the notion of perpetual Unionist majority ‘demolished’. His party has since climbed in the opinion polls in the south, overtaking Fine Gael. Talk abounds of border polls, ‘joint authority’ over the North by London and Dublin and ‘special status’ in a post-Brexit European Union.