Socialist breakthrough only crack in Stormont edifice
Socialist breakthrough only crack in Stormont edifice


The left-wing People Before Profit Alliance (PBP) have made an electoral breakthrough in the Six Counties as the established Stormont parties saw their support drop following Thursday’s Assembly election.

Despite a historic low voter turnout, there were few surprises this evening as the votes were counted. The big story of the day was the quota-smashing performance by Gerry Carroll of PBP in the Sinn Fein heartland of west Belfast, where his surplus could possibly have elected a second candidate.

His victory will soon be reinforced by the election in Derry tonight of Carroll’s colleague, veteran socialist and civil rights activist Eamonn McCann, who was supported in his campaign by republican MP Bernadette McAliskey.

“For all the parties we will be a thorn in their side and I think it is needed,” Mr Carroll said. “You hear all this talk about a different type of politics and we hope we provide that for the next term.”

Overall, the Stormont parties will be relieved that there were only slight changes to the make-up of the Assembly. The nationalist vote was sharply down, however, following a sharp drop in voter turnout in nationalist areas. As a result, the SDLP looks to have losts two seats in West Belfast and Derry, both linked to the rise in support for the People before Profit Alliance.

However, there is a potential Sinn Fein gain in Upper Bann where Dolores Kelly of the SDLP and Sinn Fein’s incumbent John O’Dowd are in a battle for the final seat with unionists. It follows a strong performance by O’Dowd’s running mate, Catherine Seeley, who is set to win a seat. The constituency was the only one in which the overall nationalist vote share was up.

There have also been some internal changes: in Fermanagh/South Tyrone, Sinn Fein’s Phil Flanagan was edged out after his party fielded four candidates, the third SF seat being claimed by colleague John Feeley. And in Derry, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness was set to take Sinn Fein’s second seat in the constituency at the expense of colleague Maeve McLaughlin, while independent Dr Anne McCloskey will fall narrowly short of a breakthrough seat behind Eamonn McCann of PBP.

Mr McGuinness admitted some voters had turned away from his party. But he insisted the swing would not be that significant and that Sinn Fein could still gain a seat overall to reach 30 seats.

“In all probability all major political parties will go down a bit - not that significantly in my view,” he said. “At this stage, we can say with considerable confidence that the ball park figure of 28, 29, 30 MLAs is eminently achievable (for Sinn Fein) even at this early stage. I think that is pretty remarkable performance.”

DUP leader Arlene Foster topped the poll in Fermanagh and South Tyrone with the highest vote of the day. She said: “I feel great, it is a great endorsement of our campaign in Fermanagh and South Tyrone, and indeed across Northern Ireland, and I am absolutely delighted.”

During the campaign, Ms Foster placed particular onus on beating Martin McGuinness in the race to see which one of them takes the First Minister’s job ahead of the Deputy First Minister’s job, and she expressed confidence she would do so.

In north Antrim, unionist extremist Jim Allister held his seat amid shouts of “Praise The Lord” from supporters who celebrated by waving a Union Jack flag inside the count centre in Ballymena.

* Full results tomorrow in our regular weekly edition.


Overall vote: 703,744 (54.91%)

Party seat totals (as of 11.30 pm):

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) 25 seats
Sinn Fein (SF) 16 seats
Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) 8 seats
Social Democratic Labour Party (SDLP) 5 seats
Alliance Party (APNI) 3 seats
Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) 1 seat
People before Profit Alliance (PBPA) 1 seat

Voter support (compared with 2011 Assembly election):

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) 29.2% (-0.8%)
Sinn Fein (SF) 24.0% (-3.0%)
Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) 12.6% (-0.7%)
Social and Democratic Labour Party (SDLP) 12.0% (-2.2%)
Alliance Party (APNI) 7.0% (-0.7%)
Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) 3.4% (+0.9%)
People before Profit Alliance (PBPA) 2.0% (+1.2%)
Green Party (Green) 2.7% (+1.8%)
UK Independence Party (UKIP) 1.5% (+0.8%)
Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) 0.9% (+0.6%)
Conservative (Tory) 0.4% (+0.4%)

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