Irish echo logo 750x550

Robinson out in North stunner

By Anthony Neeson

Sinn Féin's Michelle Gildernew won the last of the 18 seats up for grabs in Northern Ireland's portion of the Westminster election.

It took four counts for Gildernew to beat unionist unity candidate Rodney Connor by just four votes.

This was billed as the most important Westminster election in a generation, and that's how it turned out.

One startling statistic was that none of the main unionist party leaders won a seat.

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

Sign up today to get daily, up-to-date news and views from Irish America.

The biggest political scalp of the count was the DUP's Peter Robinson. The first minister lost his East Belfast seat to the popular Lord Mayor of Belfast, Naomi Long of the Alliance Party.

Celebrating their fortieth birthday this year, it has taken the Alliance Party all those 40 years to win a first Westminster seat.

The under fire Robinson, who has been caught in financial and personal scandal since the new year, will now come under pressure to retire as leader of his party.

However, there was better news for the DUP beyond East Belfast as it held eight of its nine seats. Still, their vote was well down on 2005.

Another party whose vote was down was the Ulster Unionists who entered into an arrangement with the British Conservatives. They finished the election with no MPs, their leader, Sir Reg Empey, missing out on the South Antrim seat.

Again there is speculation over Sir Reg's leadership.

Lady Sylvia Hermon, who left the Ulster Unionists because of their pact with the Conservatives, was returned as MP for North Down with an increased majority.

Sinn Féin increased its vote and returned their five MPs. The SDLP held their own and kept their three seats, including party leader Margaret Ritchie who won in South Down.

Sinn Féin have been returned as the largest party with 25.5 percent of the overall vote. The DUP came second at 25 percent, SDLP at 16.5 percent and UCU, the UUP and Conservative combination, at 15.2 percent.