Northern Ireland election results: Sinn Féin's unseats DUP


John Finucane and Stephen FarryImage copyright
PA/Pacemaker

Image caption

John Finucane (right) won North Belfast while Stephen Farry won North Down

Sinn Féin candidate John Finucane has been elected MP for North Belfast, defeating the DUP’s Nigel Dodds.

Mr Finucane’s majority over the DUP deputy leader was 1,943 votes and it is the first time a nationalist has ever held the constituency.

Earlier, Stephen Farry of the Alliance Party won North Down, the first seat declared in Northern Ireland.

Mr Farry, deputy leader of the party, defeated Alex Easton of the DUP by just under 3,000 votes.

The SDLP is confident of taking Foyle from Sinn Féin.

Mr Finucane said: “We have taken the opportunity to say North Belfast rejects Brexit, North Belfast is a remain constituency and wants a future as part of the European Union.”

Mr Finucane is Lord Mayor of Belfast and his father, Pat, was a solicitor who was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries in 1989.

Mr Farry won 18,358 votes to Mr Easton’s 15,390 to take the seat formerly held by independent MP Lady Hermon.

North Down was represented by Lady Hermon from 2001 until she stepped down this year.

The graph below shows the vote share change in North Down. If you can’t see it click here.

Vote share


Alliance Party
45.2%

Democratic Unionist Party
37.9%

Ulster Unionist Party
12.1%

Conservative
4.8%

Vote share change since 2017

Meanwhile the DUP’s Jim Shannon was re-elected in Strangford with a majority of 7,000 while Órfhlaith Begley held West Tyrone for Sinn Féin.

DUP leader Arlene Foster told the BBC Mr Dodds’ defeat was down to a “pan-nationalist front” after the SDLP opted to stand aside in the constituency.

The UK-wide exit poll released at 22:00 GMT suggests a large majority for the Conservative Party with more than 360 seats.

Some 102 candidates are competing for the 18 Westminster seats allocated to Northern Ireland.

A total of 1,293,971 people were eligible to vote at 1,300 polling stations in Northern Ireland – up by 51,000 from the last general election.

An exit poll is not conducted in Northern Ireland.

‘Clear message’

In his victory speech, Mr Farry said that “voters had sent out a clear message that North Down wanted to remain [in the EU]”.

He said there was no such thing as a good or sensible Brexit and that “all forms of Brexit are damaging for Britain”.

Mr Farry added that Northern Ireland still stands up for Remain and if the prime minister was determined to push ahead with a hard Brexit that would have “massive implications”.

The first results in the 2017 general election were known at about 01:00.

This time around there are fewer count centres – just four across Northern Ireland in Belfast, Magherafelt, Omagh and Bangor.

You can use the feature below to search for your constituency and see results. If you can’t see it click here.

Find a constituency

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If the exit poll results are borne out the Conservative Party will not require the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to help it achieve a working majority.

The DUP propped up Theresa May’s minority administration for two years following the 2017 general election.

But the party’s Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson said as Mr Johnson sought a trade deal with the EU there would still be opportunities for the DUP to influence proceedings.

Sinn Féin’s Alex Maskey said if the exit poll proved accurate it would take the “dead hand” of the Tory-DUP relationship away from the political process in Northern Ireland.

He predicted it would make it more likely that the DUP would do a deal with his party to restore devolved government.

The power-sharing executive at Stormont collapsed in January 2017 after a bitter row between the DUP and Sinn Féin over a flawed green energy scheme.

Fresh talks aimed at restoring the executive are due to start on Monday.

Meanwhile Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) leader Steve Aiken said if the exit poll is correct Northern Ireland is in for a “world of hurt” with Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal.

Depressing election for the DUP

Alliance took some heat early on in the election campaign for not standing aside in certain seats as part of a pro Remain coalition.

But the “no pacts” approach appears to have paid dividends, with the cross community party’s vote up overall and the ultimate prize of a Westminster seat, succeeding Lady Hermon in North Down.

The DUP had hoped a victory in North Down might balance out defeats elsewhere.

At the time of writing, the DUP not only looks to have missed its number one target, but also at real risk of losing two of its Belfast seats.

So a depressing election for the DUP, who have also lost their power broker role at Westminster, now Boris Johnson is on course to get a majority.

In his acceptance speech, Stephen Farry underlined the need to get Stormont back – a message echoed by the DUP’s Alex Easton.

We may be on course to have three pro-Remain MPs from Northern Ireland who take their seats in the Commons chamber – one Alliance and two SDLP.

But the challenge they face will be how to make a difference? They had hoped to “Stop Boris and Stop Brexit”, however that’s not going to happen.

They will provide a voice, but to what end given the Conservative victory? Stephen Farry says he will do his best to “take the rough edges” off Brexit.

Whilst Sinn Féin may take a hit in Foyle it looks like they are set to claim a major scalp in North Belfast, in the shape of the DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds.

Given the clear indication that voters have completely lost patience with the Stormont stand off, will the DUP now refocus on power sharing and seal a deal with Sinn Féin?

Or will a wounded DUP leadership find it hard to sell a compromise over issues like the Irish language at a time when Downing Street is pressing full steam ahead with a form of Brexit so unpalatable to unionists?

Whether it’s Julian Smith or a new Northern Ireland secretary handling the forthcoming talks, the next few weeks could prove decisive.

Voters faced some wet and windy weather, but turnout was said to be high in many places.

Image copyright
Steven McAuley/McAuley Multimedia

Image caption

Votes ahoy – a ballot box from Rathlin Island arriving in Ballycastle harbour

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