Sinn Féin is the largest party in Northern Ireland's local government after winning a record 144 seats in the recent council elections, a stunning increase of 39 councilors since the last election in 2019. 

For the first time ever, a nationalist party now holds the most seats in Northern Ireland's local councils, with Sinn Féin surpassing the DUP, who won 122 seats in the recent election. 

The Alliance Party were the third-largest party in the recent election, winning 67 seats, with the Ulster Unionist Party and the SDLP winning 54 seats and 39 seats respectively. 

Sinn Féin captured 30.9% of the first preference vote share, a staggering 7.7% increase from four years ago, while the DUP claimed 23.3% of the first preference vote, a decline of 0.8%. The DUP returned exactly the same number of councilors as it did in 2019. 

For the first time ever, nationalist candidates outpolled unionist candidates in first preference votes, receiving roughly 40% of the first preference vote share compared to around 38% for unionists. 

The bulk of Sinn Féin's gains came from the SDLP, which saw its share of the first preference vote fall by 3.3%. 

However, Sinn Féin also took seats from smaller parties and independents and even won seats in predominately unionist areas such as Banbridge and Lisburn for the first time ever. 

Sinn Féin had been expected to gain around 20 seats prior to the election but virtually doubled that tally, taking new seats.

Speaking as votes were being counted, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald said she was "very pleased" with the results of the recent local elections. 

"We ran a very positive campaign and we are very pleased that the response to that has just been so positive by way of returns," McDonald told RTÉ News.

McDonald said a victory for Sinn Féin represented a "vote for progress, for change, for positivity, and above all else, for working together". 

Last year, Sinn Féin became the first nationalist party to win the most seats in an assembly election in Northern Ireland. However, the DUP has refused to go into power-sharing with Sinn Féin over concerns about post-Brexit trade with Britain, preventing Sinn Féin Vice President Michelle O'Neill from becoming Northern Ireland's first-ever nationalist First Minister. 

The DUP's Stormont boycott helped mobilize the nationalist vote in the recent council elections.