Irish Republican News · May 7, 2010
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: SF set to be largest party; UCUNF shut out
SF set to be largest party; UCUNF shut out

Sinn Fein could take over the DUP to become the largest party in the Six Counties on vote share, according to early estimates from the Westminster election counts this morning.


Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams easily retained his seat in west Belfast with some 22,000 votes, his vote unaffected by the controversy over the child abuse allegations against his brother Liam.

Mr Adams thanked the people of West Belfast who voted for him and said it was a “humbling experience to be elected by your peers”. The result was a “mandate for the future” and Sinn Fein’s handling of the political process.

His share of the vote was up marginally to 71%, the largest margin of victory in the North. Mr Adams said the result was “a considerable victory for our party”.

He pointed in particular to a small number of votes being cast for Sinn Fein in loyalist heartlands of his west Belfast constituency as a hopeful sign of change.

Mr credited the victory on his party’s efforts in the constituency on social issues, on the issues of equality and unity, as well as its continuing “work with unionism”.

Mr Adams also expressed commiseration to DUP leader Robinison on his shock defeat in east Belfast, who he said had endured “a torrid time”.

In south Belfast, with Sinn Fein support, the SDLP’s Alasdair McDonnell held his seat reasonably comfortably by almost six thousand votes, his vote equalling the combined votes of his two main unionist rivals.

In his victory speech, Mr McDonnell declared there would be “no return to cul de sac politics”.

NO EMPEY

In south Antrim, Reg Empey has failed to unseat DUP hardliner Willie McCrea by about a thousand votes. The result is a significant setback for the Ulster Unionists, which is now left with no representation at Westminster.

The party’s disastrous attempt to link with the Conservative Party in Britain and compete the election under the doomed ‘UCUNF’ banner is being blamed for their failure.

In South Down, both unionist parties have said their voters had tactically backed the SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie over Sinn Fein’s Caitriona Ruane. The DUP said Ritchie had secured 60 percent of the vote to give her a relatively comfortable victory.

Elsewhere, counting has resumed in Derry, and there is still no indication of the nature of the result from Fermanagh/South Tyrone, the most closely watched constituency.

WESTMINSTER HANGING

In Britain, with less than seventy seats declared, the Conservative Party is thought to be edging closer a possible overall majority, but is still thought likely to fall short.

The Tories have been enjoying a substantial, if variable swing from Labour but appears to have lost key seats to the Liberal Democrats in other marginal constituencies.

A deflated Labour Party leader Gordon Brown made what sounded to some commentators as a valedictory speech following his victory in Kirkcaldy. Nevertheless, he said he was still ready to “provide the leadership” to take Britain out of the recession, an evident overture to the Liberal Democrats.

The price of any coalition with Britain’s third party is certain to be electoral reform and may be followed, some have suggested, by an immediate second Westminster election.

In any event, any future election now seems certain not to be held under the notorious ‘first-past-the-post’ system currently in use which strongly favours Britain’s largest parties.

© 2010 Irish Republican News