Lord Kilclooney: low unionist turnout has helped nationalism to advance

The sight of a victorious Sinn Fein, such as above with northern leader Michelle O'Neill at the Belfast count centre and the party's deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, will alwasy disconcert unionists. 
Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye
The sight of a victorious Sinn Fein, such as above with northern leader Michelle O'Neill at the Belfast count centre and the party's deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, will alwasy disconcert unionists. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye

Irish nationalism has advanced because of a lower turnout by unionists.

This will be misunderstood in England where they will think this result means that Northern Ireland is heading towards a united Ireland.

Mike Nesbitt announces his resignation as Ulster Unionist leader and Arlene Foster at her count on Friday, March 3

Mike Nesbitt announces his resignation as Ulster Unionist leader and Arlene Foster at her count on Friday, March 3

But whilst it is correct that unionism has lost its Stormont majority nonetheless, even after the surge in the Sinn Fein votes, a majority of 26,394 electors voted for pro United Kingdom parties rather than pro united Ireland parties – 368,159 to 341,705 votes.

In addition there were a further 94,526 votes for the ‘sitting on the fence’ parties eg Alliance, Greens etc.

In fairness to the DUP it emerged as the largest party in both votes and seats even though it is a pro Brexit Party in a Northern Ireland which by a majority voted to remain in the EU.

That was quite an achievement!

Those who voted Sinn Fein may well have ensured that Northern Ireland is governed by an English Conservative direct rule minister instead of a joint unionist/nationalist Northern Ireland Executive as we had foreseen when we negotiated the Belfast Agreement.

Lord Kilclooney, Armagh