The date 10 February now represents two equally important moments for Mary Lou McDonald.

In 2018, it marked the day she took over from Gerry Adams as Sinn Féin president.

Two years later, it marked the beginning of a new era for the party under her leadership, as it consolidated its best-ever election result.

The party’s success surprised pundits, senior Sinn Féin strategists and even some of its candidates: one of them, Patricia Ryan, had gone on holiday during the campaign so slim were her chances of winning a seat.

We now know Sinn Féin topped the poll in the majority of constituencies and increased its number of seats by 14 – a remarkable result.

However, given how the overall vote has broken down, Sinn Féin may not necessarily end

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