Northern Ireland

Local government election result sees odds on border poll slashed

The odds on a border poll before the end of the decade have been slashed in the aftermath of the local government election result.

Last Thursday's council elections saw support for Sinn Féin surge, making it the largest party in local government by some distance.

The party secured 144 seats, an increase of 39, while the DUP's council representation remained static at 122.

The election also saw nationalist parties outpoll their unionist counterparts.

Pro-unity parties, including People Before Profit, received 308,624 votes compared to unionism's 281,196 – a lead of more than 27,000.

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The result prompted bookmaker BoyleSports to trim the odds on a border poll being held before 2030 into just even money from the 2/1 available ahead of last Thursday.

However, a vote for constitutional change remains an outside bet with odds if 5/2 compared to 2/7 for the status quo prevailing in the event of a referendum.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald is odds-on favourite at 4/11 to be elected taoiseach after the Republic's next general election, while Sinn Féin is the hot favourite at 1/8 to win most seats.

Lawrence Lyons from BoyleSports said: "Punters are speculating in bigger numbers that a unity referendum will get the green light and with gains both north and south of the border, Mary Lou McDonald is running away with the race to be the next taoiseach.”