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Donegal Senator joins Sinn Fein party at Stormont ahead of negotiations

07 March 2017

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire will begin crunch talks with the DUP and Sinn Fein to try and save devolution today.

For the first time, unionists will not have an overall majority at Stormont.

Sinn Féin had refused to replace Martin McGuinness as leader of nationalists and deputy first minister, while Foster had rejected calls to resign amid an investigation into the government's handling of a botched renewable energy scheme.

"I am humbled that so many placed their trust in me".

Jon Tonge, professor of politics at the University of Liverpool and an expert on Northern Ireland's unionist politics, says Arlene Foster, the embattled DUP leader, made a strategic mistake by aligning the party with the Eurosceptic wing of the Conservatives in Westminster.

"I think it would be a pity if they were launched back into yet another election just after three weeks". The question following the election will be whether Sinn Fein will pressure the DUP into selecting a new First Minister, and if so, who that will be.

Turnout was highest in Sinn Fein's traditional working-class Catholic power bases.

"I am pleased that the DUP has come out as the largest party in terms of votes". This mechanism gave the DUP the power to veto issues such as lifting a ban on same-sex marriage.

The campaign exposed other major policy disputes between the parties.

Speaking outside the party's West Belfast office, Adams said Sinn Fein was keen to ensure powersharing in the region is restored as soon as possible in negotiation with other leaders.

"The vote has increased". It may have been the excuse but it certainly wasn't the cause of the election. You need 30 votes to do that; they now only have 28.

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The largest party, the DUP, is running 38 - six fewer than past year.

But with relations at their lowest point in a decade, Sinn Fein insists among its demands that Foster step aside before it will consider re-entering government.

With the UUP failing to make any ground on the DUP, former TV anchor Mr Nesbitt fell on his sword.

In essence, the election is two contests, with Catholics mostly voting for parties which want a united, independent Ireland and Protestant voters largely supporting pro-U.K. unionist parties.

The contest was triggered by the republican party in a bitter showdown with its longtime Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) partners in government.

"In pure terms, the buck stops here", he said.

While the vote will not change how Theresa May's British government treats talks to leave the European Union, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland could become an issue in how Brexit is introduced.

"We will get there", he said.

Nationalist leaders believe the election has put Brexit centre stage in Northern Ireland in a way it has not been since the referendum. We have been given a clear mandate.

Foster also led the DUP into unprecedented waters. In a very poisonous atmosphere.