We use cookies to provide some features and experiences in QOSHE

More information  .  Close
Aa Aa Aa
- A +

The DUP needs to provide a single strong voice for unionism like one nationalism enjoys

5 13 2

It may be idiosyncratic to present a “unionist” view of the Assembly election, largely because a unionist view of anything now seems to mean something split and incoherent.

The election was essentially fought on one area of importance — the occupancy of the post of First Minister. Sinn Fein is now poised to take that prime position, heralding the single most sensational development here in a quarter of a century.

It is simultaneously a triumph for the heritage of physical force nationalism and its transitions to the ballot box, and a catastrophic blow to the DUP in its leadership role.

It also emphasises the fragility of a union which depends on consent. Though extrapolating from the election to the ultimate outcome of a border poll, for example, would be naïve.

That will bring scant comfort to the many unionist homes where the symbolism of Sinn Fein’s victory will be accompanied by a sense of foreboding.

The poll has returned a verdict on a margin of seats which seems just as narrow as the last Assembly election, though this time in another direction. However, the fact that a quarter of a million people voted for SF first preference, while the DUP received 184,000 votes, a drop of 41,000 on 2017, is a sobering and concerning statistic for that party.

Sign up to Suzanne Breen's Politics Unplugged newsletter for expert analysis of what's important at Stormont.

Enter email address This field is required Sign Up

It’s not to take anything away from Michelle O’Neill’s triumph to say that nationalism was able to coalesce around one common objective.

But there was another election going on within........

© Belfast Telegraph

Get it on Google Play