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Eamonn Farrell
The North

DUP wins most seats in the northern elections while the Alliance party makes major gains

The Alliance party, which claims to be neither nationalist or unionist, made the most gains in the election.

THE DUP HAS won the most seats in the Northern Ireland local elections.

Sinn Féin returned the same number of seats it had taken five years ago while the DUP lost eight seats, but received the biggest vote of all parties. 

In total, Arlene Foster’s party won 122 seats – down from 130 in 2014 – while Sinn Féin held on to 105 seats – the same number it secured in 2014.

The Ulster Unionist party took 75 seats – down 13 on it’s 2014 election result, and the SDLP dropped from 66 seats to 59 compared to five years ago. 

In a first for the DUP – which opposes same-sex marriage – Alison Bennington was the first openly gay member of the party to win a seat on a council. 

While the DUP, Sinn Féin and the UUP held their rankings as the top three parties elected to councils in the north, the party with the biggest gains was the centre-ground Alliance party, which claims to be neither nationalist or unionist. 

In 2014, the Alliance party won 32 seats, which was down two on the previous election result. 

In this years poll, however, the party – which has ties with the UK’s Liberal Democrats – increased its holding by more than half as 53 candidates were elected to the various councils. 

While Sinn Féin failed to win more than the 105 seats it won five years ago, party leader Mary Lou McDonald said the overall election results marked a demand for a “progressive” politics. 

“Sinn Féin made gains in a number of areas across the north, including in areas where Sinn Féin have previously not had any elected representatives,” she said. 

“The votes are now in and this election has been marked by the growth in support for progressive politics, inclusion, equality and change. 

“There is an onus on all of the progressive parties to use their mandates in the coming talks to deliver equality, respect and the rights of all, and re-establish genuine power-sharing.”

Meanwhile, new party Aontú – which was set up by former Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín after he resigned from the party – won its first seat in Derry. 

Political parties in Northern Ireland are to begin a fresh round of talks this week in a bid to restore power-sharing at Stormont. 

It comes following an outburst of violence in Derry where journalist Lyra McKee was killed on 18 April. 

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