Sinn Féin won't take up any seats they win in the General Election - so who will?

ITV News' Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen reports on shifts in the Northern Irish political landscape, as the General Election looms.

As the Westminster parties slug it out for every single seat, it is easy to forget that one party won’t actually take up any of the seats they win.

That party is Sinn Féin and they are - by poll shares at least - the biggest party in Northern Ireland.

Sinn Féin want a united Ireland and have always abstained from Westminster on principle (although these days they are prepared to sit in the Irish and European Parliaments and the Stormont Assembly).

The abstentionist policy doesn’t seem to do Sinn Féin much harm. Michelle O’Neill, the party’s leader in Northern Ireland and now First Minister, says everyone knows what a vote for Sinn Féin means.

O’Neill says Sinn Féin MPs can actually have just as much influence by talking directly to ministers in Westminster, but none of the other Northern Irish parties agree.

All of the others say voters are better served by MPs who actually turn up. The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), who are chasing the same set of voters as Sinn Féin, make the point particularly often.

On the unionist side, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) have had a torrid few months with their former leader Jeffrey Donaldson being arrested on historical sex abuse charges, which he has denied.

The new leader, Gavin Robinson, says voters understand that this is not an issue that has anything to do with the DUP.

But with Donaldson next due in court on the day before the election, the timing is pretty uncomfortable.

That said the other Unionist parties - the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the smaller Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) - don’t seem to be making significant inroads into DUP support.

Instead, it is the cross community Alliance Party which has continued to see its vote share go up and could be on the cusp of winning a second seat at Westminster.

The recent rise of Alliance signals a gentle change in Northern Irish politics with "ordinary issues" like the cost of living and the NHS becoming important to more voters than the "border question".

Younger voters in particular are less likely to identify strongly with the traditional sides.

Interestingly, it is Unionist voters who are more concerned about Northern Ireland’s constitutional position than nationalists, perhaps reflecting underlying concerns about what Sinn Féin's political dominance signals for the future.

Have you heard our new podcast Talking Politics? Every day in the run-up to the election Tom, Robert and Anushka dig into the biggest issues dominating the political agenda…