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

5 13 2
07.05.2022

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.

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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


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