DOMINIC Raab has attempted to play down the prospect of a reunified Ireland following Sinn Fein’s historic victory in the Northern Irish Assembly elections.

He insisted there was still a Unionist majority in Northern Ireland despite the nationalist party becoming the largest party last week.

Sinn Fein secured 27 seats out 90 in the Assembly elections prompting speculation a reunification referendum could be on the cards.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon congratulates Sinn Fein as party wins historic election victory

Raab (below) told Sky News on Sunday: “If you look at the results in Northern Ireland, 58% of people voted either for parties who support the union or for parties who do not support constitutional change and that is the message from the people of Northern Ireland.

The National:

“We don’t have an executive yet, I think the first priority, mindful of that 58% of people in Northern Ireland who are not calling for that kind of change, is to get the executive up and running.”

Sinn Fein leader Michelle O’Neill is now expected to become the first nationalist leader of the Northern Irish Assembly since its creation in 1998.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has said it will refuse to form a government with O’Neill’s party in protest over the Northern Ireland protocol, which Unionists see as effectively creating a border between the province and the rest of the UK.

O’Neill (below, centre) said the result “ushers in a new era” of politics in Northern Ireland.

The National:

In a press conference on Saturday, party leader Mary Lou McDonald said: “We look forward to an executive being established, I look forward to Michelle O’Neill being nominated as First Minister and to have politics that delivers for people.

“We would appeal to everybody to take stock, take breaths and really assess the huge responsibility that all of us carry.

READ MORE: Why Yes supporters should pay close attention to the elections in Northern Ireland

“Collectively we have an obligation to get government up and running.”

While the DUP supported Brexit, the party objects to the Northern Ireland Protocol because they see it as undermining Northern Ireland’s place in the UK in favour of maintaining a porous border on the island.

The Protocol allows goods to pass unchecked between the Republic of Ireland into the north but introduces checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from the UK.

Despite its constitutional obligation to form a power-sharing executive, the DUP has threatened not to engage with the nationalists until their issues with the Protocol are resolved.

Raab acknowledged the Tories post-Brexit fix was undermining the stability of Northern Ireland and appeared to commit to resolving it.

He said: “That stability is being put at risk, imperilled if you like, by the problems with the Northern Ireland Protocol, that’s something that affects communities across the board.

“It’s clear from the dynamic that we now see that we won’t get to that position of stability unless and until it is fixed.

“We will deal with the situation, we will take whatever measures are necessary to protect the economic as well as the constitutional integrity of Northern Ireland.”

Raab added: “If anything, the outcome in Northern Ireland from those elections makes it clear it can’t be put off.”

He suggested it would be dealt with in the coming “weeks and months”.

The deadlock will increase tensions between Westminster and Brussels, with the UK insisting all options remain on the table – including the possibility of unilaterally scrapping elements of the deal.

That could trigger a major breakdown in relations between the UK and European Union.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis urged the parties to work to form a new “fully functioning devolved government” but said voters “want the issues around the protocol addressed”.