How the Irish News in Belfast illustrated John Finucane’s win
By Ray O’Hanlon
The political landscape in Northern Ireland is different from what it was yesterday.
Very different indeed.
For the first time ever, the majority of MPs elected to the House of Commons in Westminster comes from the nationalist side of the political divide.
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The general election results for the North’s eighteen constituencies have led to the return of eight DUP MPs, a drop of two for the party, and seven Sinn Féin MPs, including John Finucane in North Belfast.
That’s the same number of seats that Sinn Féin secured in the last election.
Finucane’s win, however, is a dramatic breakthrough for the party though, along with his six fellow MPS, Finucane, son of slain attorney Pat, will abstain from taking his parliamentary seat.
Finucane convincingly defeated DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds.
The 9-8 nationalist majority (it was 11-7 in favor of unionists after the 2017 election) is reached by virtue of the return to Westminster of the SDLP. Party leader Colum Eastwood won in Foyle, while Claire Hanna won by a wide margin in South Belfast.
The results in North and South Belfast are in part due to an unofficial pact between Sinn Féin and the SDLP not to run candidates against each other.
The eighteenth North seat was taken by the Alliance Party in North down.
Even before the dust settled following the counts, reports were pointing to increasing pressure on the North’s parties to get back to power sharing at Stormont, this against the backdrop of Boris Johnson’s big win and the now inevitable initiation of Brexit in the coming weeks.
The results will also bring the question of a referendum on Irish unity into sharper focus while the strong performance of the Scottish National Party will have a similar effect in Scotland.
Brexit, down the road, could well lead to a greater sundering than even the link between the UK and EU.