Donald Trump triumphs; now the world holds its breath

President-elect Donald Trump gives his acceptance speech during his election night rally, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/John Locher)
President-elect Donald Trump gives his acceptance speech during his election night rally, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Donald Trump yesterday stunned the world by defying the polls and conclusively defeating Hillary Clinton to be elected as the 45th president of the United States.

In what the New York Times described as a “stunning repudiation of the establishment”, the Republican outsider – whose own party was bitterly divided over his candidature – swept to victory despite a gaffe and scandal-strewn campaign.

The tycoon and former reality TV star immediately attempted to soften his fiery rhetoric, dropping his vow to have Mrs Clinton jailed if he won and – in an effort to reach out to half of what is now a bitterly divided nation – instead praising her contribution to America.

Prime Minister Theresa May and Taoiseach Enda Kenny were among many world leaders yesterday also rowing back on their own sharp criticisms of Mr Trump during the campaign and instead pledging to work constructively with the incoming president.

But in Northern Ireland, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood took a strikingly individual line, refusing to congratulate a new president who he described as a “buffoon” and vowing to never attend the White House while Mr Trump is resident there.

In evidence of a fault line within nationalism on the issue, Sinn Fein leaders pledged to work with Mr Trump.

And, writing in today’s News Letter, First Minister Arlene Foster sharply criticised Mr Eastwood’s stance.

The DUP leader said: “Those who are now forced to follow through with the stunt of promising to boycott the Trump White House highlight how little they really care about working for the good of Northern Ireland. That so few will even notice their absence is a demonstration of their political irrelevance.”