Northern Ireland

Sinn Féin 'set for groundbreaking election'

Michelle O'Neill
Image caption Michelle O'Neill said she had no doubt that Sinn Féin would do well at the election

Sinn Féin's northern leader Michelle O'Neill has claimed the party is heading for another "groundbreaking" election next month.

She said "the new certainties are gone and a new political era is opening up in Irish politics".

Mrs O'Neill made the comments at the party's manifesto launch in Dungannon, County Tyrone.

Sinn Féin is hoping to capitalise on its impressive showing at the assembly election in March.

The party came within one seat of matching the Democratic Unionist Party's (DUP) total number of seats in Stormont.

Image caption Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams was present at the manifesto launch

In choosing to go to the Fermanagh and South Tyrone constituency for the manifesto launch, the party's leadership signalled it as one of its prime target seats in the 8 June election.

Sinn Féin also hopes to add South Down and North Belfast to its existing four seats.

However, on Monday, Mrs O'Neill was careful to avoid revealing how many constituencies the party hopes to win.

"Whilst I'm not going to give you a number, we're engaged on the doorsteps and the canvassing is going so well," she said.

"People are very positive in their feedback because people know Sinn Féin are standing up for their rights.

"This is very much about taking an anti-Brexit stance; this is very much about taking an anti-Tory cuts stance; very much about progressive politics.

Image caption Sinn Féin candidates including Michelle Gildernew, Elisha McCallion and Chris Hazzard spoke at the event

"So, I have no doubt that we are going to do well in this election. This is going to be another momentous election. The fact that so many people are engaged in politics - it all bodes well."

Sticking with the optimistic theme, she said the assembly election had "activated a transformation unimaginable to the founders of the northern state."

There are no surprises in the 28-page manifesto, which was published in English and Irish.

Instead it hammers home the familiar messages the party has based its strategy on for much of the past year:

  • Opposition to Brexit with special designated status for Northern Ireland within the EU.
  • A referendum on Irish unity within five years.
  • An end to cuts imposed by Westminster.
  • The re-establishment of Stormont with an Irish Language Act and marriage equality.

Mrs O'Neill said that while the party had not wanted a general election it still represented "the opportunity of a lifetime for people to come out and voice their concerns again in relation to Brexit".

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