Sinn Fein Is Now in the Driver’s Seat on Both Sides of the Irish Border

Sinn Fein Is Now in the Driver’s Seat on Both Sides of the Irish Border
A man walks his dogs past election posters in West Belfast, Northern Ireland, May 5, 2022 (AP photo by Peter Morrison).

BELFAST, Northern Ireland—Sinn Fein’s historic victory in Northern Ireland’s elections last week, which made it the largest party in the state’s devolved parliament, is significant in numerous ways. For the first time in Northern Ireland’s 101-year history, a nationalist party is now dominant in a state that was specifically designed to ensure a pro-Union majority.

But Sinn Fein is not simply a nationalist party. Having originated as the political wing of the Irish Republican Army, or IRA—the foremost paramilitary in the Northern Ireland conflict—it is a republican party that once supported armed struggle and vowed to destroy the very state it could now lead.

Of course, Sinn Fein has transformed itself since the IRA cease-fire of 1994, but the reunification of Ireland continues to be its raison d’être. And it appears closer than ever to realizing this aim, with polls consistently suggesting that it is also the most popular party in the Republic of Ireland. Thus, Sinn Fein may soon lead governments in both parts of Ireland, strengthening the resonance of its call for a referendum on reunification, but also allowing it to direct politics in the two jurisdictions in ways that would ease their integration.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to WPR’s fully searchable library of 16,000+ articles
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday
  • Weekly in-depth reports on important issues and countries
  • Daily links to must-read news and analysis from top sources around the globe, curated by our keen-eyed team of editors
  • The Weekly Wrap-Up email, with highlights of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review