MICHELLE O’Neill has hailed Sinn Féin's spectacular showing in the local council elections as a clear signal that people want politics to work for all.
Sinn Féin's First Minister Designate was speaking after the party won 144 council seats in the North, an increase of 39 seats, with 31 per cent of first preference votes. The party is now the largest in local government and in the Assembly. As for the other parties, the DUP returned with 122 seats, Alliance 67, UUP 54, SDLP 39 and Others 36.
Across the North Nationalist parties outpolled Unionism for the first time by 42 per cent to 38 per cent.
“Sinn Féin went into this campaign with a positive message of wanting to make politics work for all," she said.
"We asked people to vote for Sinn Féin candidates who will work hard in councils every day to deliver on the issues that matter to them. This election was an opportunity to send a clear signal.
"To support the positive leadership and a party that wants to get the Assembly up and running, deliver first class council services, support people with the cost of living crisis, and invest in the health service. The voters have now spoken."
Ms O'Neill said Sinn Féin made breakthroughs in areas right across the North, following Thursday's poll.
"In Lisburn North where Paul Burke has topped the poll and made history, doubling the Sinn Féin 2019 vote.
"In Ballymena where Bréanainn Lyness has won a seat to become the first Sinn Féin councillor ever elected in that town, and Niamh Archibald has also been returned as the first party's ever councillor in Coleraine.
"In Titanic (Belfast City Council), Pádraig Donnelly has won the seat for Sinn Féin. In Banbridge DEA we have taken an extra seat to make it two.
"In the Waterside and Faughan DEAs in Derry, we have seat gains for Sinn Féin there with all 18 party candidates being elected to Derry City & Strabane Council.
"In Black Mountain (Belfast City Council) Sinn Féin has again won six out of seven seats.
"In Armagh DEA, Lurgan DEA, Mid Tyrone DEA, West Tyrone DEA we have taken four seats in each of those areas.
In Craigavon DEA Catherine Nelson and Jude Mallon have both been elected with a Sinn Féin seat gain there.
"In Castle DEA (Belfast City Council) and Glengormley Urban DEA, Sinn Féin has gained a seat in each of those areas."
She said that "historic change" is happening and Sinn Féin is leading that change right across Ireland.
"These results are a positive endorsement of Sinn Féin’s message that workers, families and communities need to be supported, and that the blocking of a new Assembly by one party must end.
"We want to work together with others. To build a better future for everyone, protect public services, attract investment, create jobs for our young people, and deliver the change people here demand and rightfully deserve.
"The onus is now on the British and Irish Governments to get together and focus their efforts on the immediate restoration of the Executive and Assembly.
"We expect to see an early meeting of the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference. The boycott of the Assembly cannot go on and an Executive must be formed.
"It is time to make politics work for all right across this island.”