Saturday, 4 March 2017

Green Shoots Up, Red Roots Down

Unless I am very much mistaken, then no one contested the elections in Northern Ireland as a dissident Republican opponent of the process itself, rather than simply as someone who had fallen out with Sinn Féin for internal reasons.

The results speaks for themselves.

There is now no avowedly Unionist majority at Stormont.

The DUP has beaten Sinn Féin by precisely one seat.

Sinn Féin has topped the poll even in North Antrim, both MPs for which since 1970 have been called Ian Paisley.

In Belfast, all Unionists combined have only six seats, while Sinn Féin alone, so to speak, has seven.

North Belfast has its first ever Nationalist majority, and a Unionist who was particularly reviled by "the Other Side" has lost his seat there.

In nine of the 18 constituencies, there are more Nationalist than Unionist MLAs.

In the three constituencies west of the Bann, Nationalists hold 11 of the 15 seats.

The Assembly itself has been reduced by 18 seats, and 16 of those have been lost by Unionists.

The SDLP is now the third largest party, and 12 out of 90 is a significant improvement on 12 out of 108.

The election of the SDLP's Pat Catney in Lagan Valley was jaw-dropping.

And a mere 37,036 votes now separate the avowedly Unionist parties from those which are explicitly in favour of a United Ireland.

Also of note is that while the anti-austerity Lexiteers of People Before Profit could not hold on, due to the reduction in seats, in Foyle, nevertheless they could and did retain the only seat in West Belfast to be held by anyone other than Sinn Féin.