A surge in support for Sinn Fein has seen the party win seats in Foyle, South Down and Fermanagh/South Tyrone, wiping the rival nationalist SDLP off the Westminster political map.
It was also a good day for the DUP, as Paul Girvan was returned to Westminster for South Antrim with a comfortable lead over the UUP’s Danny Kinahan. Later the party took the key seat of the SDLP veteran Alasdair McDonnell, who was outstripped by less than 2,000 votes in South Belfast by the DUP’s Emma Little-Pengelly.
In what is already a famous victory, Sinn Fein’s Elisha McCallion won in the SDLP’s Derry heartland to become the party’s first MP to sit in the city and also its first woman MP.
Amid scenes of disbelief at the Foyle count centre, Elisha McCallion won by 169 votes in a historic and ground-breaking performance in what was the safest seat for the SDLP.
There was sustained cheers upon cheers after it was confirmed that Ms McCallion had wiped out the sitting MP Mark Durkan’s majority of more than 6,000 votes.
The SDLP had held the constituency since it was created in 1983, for many years under its former leader John Hume.
As jubilant supporters chanted her name, Ms McCallion said: “I can’t not express my extreme delight at being the first ever republican MP for Foyle.”
In her acceptance speech, she paid tribute to the former deputy first minister Martin McGuinness, who died in March. Watched by Mr McGuinness’s wife Bernie, she said, “we did this for you”.
There was an equally impressive result for Sinn Fein in South Down. Chris Hazzard took the seat from another former leader of the SDLP, Margaret Ritchie, with a massive 11,000 more votes added since the 2015 election.
The result was not unexpected after a huge change in political fortunes at the Assembly election in March.
In his acceptance speech on winning the seat once held by arch-Tory and unionist Enoch Powell, Mr Hazzard described the election as historic.
“We are now entering a new era in South Down,” he said, describing himself as “honoured and entirely privileged” by the win.
“It is the first time a republican has ever been elected as MP for South Down,” he noted. He said Sinn Fein “will fight Brexit and Tory austerity” and said he “can’t wait to get stuck in”.
There were also jubilant scenes at Omagh count centre as Sinn Fein’s Michelle Gildernew regained the seat Ulster Unionist Tom Elliott took from her two years ago.
Ms Gildernew benefit from the surge of support for Sinn Fein across the Six Counties as it again recreated the transformative Assembly election result to win by just 835 votes.
She beamed as the result was announced and in her speech, spoke of the fear and anxiety in the constituency about Brexit and its ramifications over a hard border and “complications we don’t need”.
Paul Maskey romped over the line to retain Belfast West for Sinn Fein, regaining thousands of votes lost in 2015 to People before Profit candidate Gerry Carroll.
Addressing cheering supporters at Belfast’s Titanic Exhibition Centre, the elated MP said: “Maybe it is a fluke, maybe it’s not, but this day 34 years ago Gerry Adams took this seat for the first time for Sinn Fein in West Belfast.
“I am delighted to continue on in his footsteps.”
However, there was a tinge of disappointment for Sinn Fein in North Belfast as John Finucane, who received 19,000 votes to 21,000 votes for DUP incumbent Nigel Dodds, just failed to bridge the gap. Mr Finucane expressed justified pride in his first electoral campaign. He said: “I am exceptionally proud to have returned the biggest mandate any republican has ever returned in north Belfast.”
FINAL RESULT IN THE SIX COUNTIES (CHANGE COMPARED TO 2015):
DUP 36.0% (+10.3%), 10 seats (+2)
SF 29.4% (+4.9%), 7 seats (+3)
SDLP 11.7% (-2.2%), 0 seats (-3)
UUP 10.3% (-5.7%), 0 seats (-2)
Alliance 7.9% (-0.7%), 0 seats (-)
Others 4.6% (-6.6%), 1 seat (-)
Turnout 65.5% (+7.4%)
* A full analysis of the Westminster election results will be carried in our regular weekly edition.