Sinn Féin vote increases dramatically
BY CAÍTLIN DOHERTY
Sinn Féin won an extra council seat during the Erne West election
and increased its support by over 1,200 votes on Wednesday 31
Stephen Huggett, standing for the first time, increased the
party's vote by nearly 60% to take what was previously an
independent nationalist seat.
He recorded 3,233 first-preference votes, while the Ulster
Unionist candidate Alan Latimer was second, with 1,455 votes. The
SDLP's candidate won 1,248 and the DUP drew a slim 398.
The vote has sent shock-waves in the area. Sinn Féin is now the
largest nationalist party on Fermanagh council with six
councillors and its strength is only growing as the party has
added a solid 1,200 voices to its register.
Stephen Huggett said the latest success was a good sign for the
future of the party on Fermanagh Council.
``What the unionists will have to be looking at in the future is
eight or nine Sinn Féin councillors next year,'' he said. ``That
will certainly change the entire dynamic there.''
The most interesting factor in the election is that, while Sinn
Féin's vote rose dramatically, all the other parties' support
The figures show that the nationalist vote is coming out strongly
in a clear endorsement of the wider political picture and of Sinn
Féin's peace strategy. In contrast, the divisions and fractures
in unionism are more apparent than ever in the area.
The SDLP, already shaken by the recent by-election in Omagh, saw
its vote drop by 200. The Ulster Unionists poll fell by 800
The trend of a rapidly expanding Sinn Féin vote across the Six
Counties, evidenced by the by-elections in Antrim,
Toome/Randelstown and Omagh, has been further confirmed by the
election of Steven Huggett.
This success was made possible by the work of tireless republican
activists whose commitment to better representation for the
nationalist people through the growth of Sinn Féin has laid the
groundwork for further electoral victories.