Sinn Fein tightens grip at Belfast City Hall after historic election win

Sinn Fein secured 22 council seats, up from the 18-seat total it won in the 2019 elections.

Sinn Fein has tightened its electoral grip on Belfast City Council but is likely to continue to need co-operation from other parties.

At the completion of the count just after midnight on Sunday Sinn Fein had secured 22 council seats, up from the 18-seat total it won in the 2019 elections.

While stretching its lead as the largest party on the council, the margin would be unlikely to allow it a big enough lead to be able to pass votes without the help of smaller parties.

The DUP remained the second-largest party on the council, largely defending its vote, but finished with 14 seats, one fewer than its 15 total in 2019.

The Alliance Party finished with 11 seats, up one from the total 10 seats it won in 2019.

Meanwhile the SDLP bucked a disappointing election by retaining their five seats in Belfast following the election of Paul Doherty in the Black Mountain district electoral area.

Former SDLP councillor Paul McCusker was return to Belfast City Council as an independent.

They had six elected in 2019, but former SDLP councillor Paul McCusker left the party before the election, and was re-elected as an independent.

The TUV was celebrating after the election of Ron McDowell, its first councillor in Belfast since 2017.

UUP leader Doug Beattie conceded it had been a difficult election for his party in Belfast, adding he had hoped to have made gains in the capital.

The UUP saw Sonia Copeland and Jim Rodgers elected in Belfast on Saturday, equalling the total of two they had elected in Belfast in 2019.

Two party leaders - the Green Party's Mal O'Hara and the PUP's Billy Hutchinson - lost their seats.

The Green Party dropped from four councillors to three, People Before Profit saw their representation drop from three councillors to two while the PUP is no longer represented in Belfast.

In 2019, Sinn Fein was the largest party in Belfast with 18 councillors.

However, this total was a drop from the 19 seats it won at the 2014 and 2011 local government elections.

Four years ago, the DUP had 15 councillors, a gain from the 13 seats it won in 2014, but still down on the 17 seats it won in 2011.

Meanwhile, the Alliance Party had 10 councillors in 2019, ahead of the SDLP who had six, the Green Party with four, People Before Profit on three, the UUP with two and the PUP on two.

Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill and Mary Lou McDonald celebrate with Tina Black.

Sitting Lord Mayor Tina Black was among the earliest elections on the first day of the count on Friday.

Her Sinn Fein colleague Geraldine McAteer was the first elected to the capital's council in the Balmoral DEA.

A short time later, Ms Black, along with DUP candidates Frank McCoubrey and Nicola Verner, were elected in the Court DEA.

Five DEAs were counted on Friday: Black Mountain, Castle, Court, Balmoral and Lisnasharragh, while Botanic, Oldpark, Ormiston, Collin and Titanic, were counted on Saturday.

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