Martina Anderson congratulates Naomi Long (pictured left) at the count in Magherafelt, County Derry as Michelle O’Neill looks on.
By Anthony Neeson
History has been made at the European Election count in Northern Ireland with three women – two of them “Remainers” – being returned to the European Parliament.
As the issue of Europe once more claimed another British Prime Minister, with Theresa May announcing that she is to step down in June, the majority of the electorate in the North once more showed their pro-EU colors.
Diane Dodds of the pro-Brexit DUP was first over the line in the Euro three-seater, with Sinn Féin’s Martina Anderson and the Alliance’s Naomi Long also being elected.
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And the Alliance surge was the story of the election. For the first time in the history of the Euro election there will be only one unionist MEP as a result of Long’s win. Also for the first time, Northern Ireland has returned three female MEPs.
Speaking with emotion, Long said her party represented both sides of the community and that those who voted for her wanted to remain in the EU.
“People are tired of the fact that the stale politics of the past isn’t delivering,” she said.
“The people who voted for me came together from right across the community, regardless of unionism, regardless of nationalism, regardless of all those labels. I will serve them to the absolute best of my ability, they have my word on that.”
Martina Anderson said her election sent a powerful message to London and Brussels.
“The people of the North have elected two Remain MEPs and have sent a powerful message that people here reject Brexit, just as they did in the 2016 referendum.
“I want to thank everyone who came out and voted in this election. You have made it absolutely clear that the DUP do not speak for the people of the North.”
Diane Dodds had a different message, saying three years on from the UK voting to leave the EU there was anger that this had not yet happened.
“There’s a lot of anger and frustration among those people who voted in the 2016 referendum that their voice has not been heard and the political class has not been heard. So we need to get on and deliver Brexit, one that is good for Northern Ireland,” Dodds said.