13/12/2019

General Election: NI Returns A Nationalist Majority

The people of Northern Ireland have returned 18 MPs to Westminster, with the balance shifting towards nationalism for the first time.

Thursday's General Election saw 62.09% of the region turn out to cast their ballot and those 803,367 votes have significantly changed the Northern Irish representation in the House of Commons.

The DUP is down to eight seats after losing Belfast South and Belfast North, and Sinn Fein has maintained seven, while Alliance returned one MP and the SDLP two.

Last time such a vote was held, in 2017, tallies saw 10 Democratic Unionists returned, seven for Sinn Fein and the final went to Independent Sylvia Hermon.

Over two years later, however, DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds was defeated by Sinn Fein's John Finucane, who took a majority of 1,943 votes.

Meanwhile, South Belfast voters chose the SDLP's Claire Hanna as their new MP, while the DUP's Emma Little Pengelly suffered a crushing defeat and lost her place in Westminster by 15,401 votes.

The picture has also changed considerably in Foyle, where Sinn Fein's Elisha McCallion had hoped to defend her seat against the SDLP's Colum Eastwood, in what many presumed was a two horse race.

Ultimately, Mr Eastwood won back the seat for his party by a huge margin. He polled an exceptionally strong performance amassing 26,881 votes that gave him a majority of 17,170 and 56.75% of the total ballot.
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Another key battleground leading up to this election was North Down, with the seat previously held by Lady Hermon up for grabs after she resigned from the House of Commons. The seat had been a key target for the DUP but ultimately went to the pro-Remain Alliance Party Deputy leader Stephen Farry, who took a majority of just under 3,000 votes.

Meanwhile, a dramatic night in Fermanagh and South Tyrone saw Sinn Fein incumbent Michelle Gildernew almost tied with the Ulster Unionist's Tom Elliott, with votes eventually going to a recount. When the poll was finally tallied on Friday morning, Ms Gildernew managed to keep her seat by a slim majority of just 57 votes.

While these five constituencies represent the key battlegrounds of Northern Ireland, another 13 MPs were returned across the region. Northern Ireland's full representation in Westminster is now as follows:

• North Down – Stephen Farry (Alliance)

• Strangford – Jim Shannon (DUP)

• West Tyrone - Órfhlaith Begley (Sinn Féin)

• Belfast West – Paul Maskey (Sinn Féin)

• Belfast North – John Finucane (Sinn Féin)

• Mid Ulster – Francie Molloy (Sinn Féin)

• East Londonderry – Gregory Campbell (DUP)

• Belfast East – Gavin Robinson (DUP)

• South Antrim – Paul Girvan (DUP)

• Belfast South – Claire Hanna (SDLP)

• East Antrim – Sammy Wilson (DUP)

• Foyle – Colum Eastwood (SDLP)

• Lagan Valley - Jeffrey Donaldson (DUP)

• North Antrim - Ian Paisley (DUP)

• Upper Bann - Carla Lockhart (DUP)

• South Down – Chris Hazzard (Sinn Féin)

• Newry & Armagh – Mickey Brady (Sinn Féin)

• Fermanagh & South Tyrone – Michelle Gildernew (Sinn Féin)



(JG/MH)

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