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Sinn Fein's Paul Maskey back in West Belfast, but People's Gerry Carroll is a roaring success

By Ivan Little

Published 09/05/2015

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams with party members Gerry Kelly, Mary Lou McDonald and Paul Maskey at Belfast’s King’s Hall
Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams with party members Gerry Kelly, Mary Lou McDonald and Paul Maskey at Belfast’s King’s Hall

He may have been virtually unknown outside West Belfast and in reality he was a loser, but Gerry Carroll looked every inch the winner as he acknowledged the roars of supporters after his remarkable tally of votes was announced.

For the most predictable result in the safest Sinn Fein seat in Belfast also managed to throw up the biggest surprise - the inexorable surge of the People Before Profit councillor who garnered almost 7,000 votes and pushed the SDLP's Alex Attwood into an ignominious third place in the poll.

Sinn Fein's Paul Maskey won, of course. That was never in doubt.

Mr Maskey basically only had to turn up to be returned again in party central for Sinn Fein in an economically deprived constituency where bread and butter issues were at the crux of the campaign rather than the old bomb and bullet politics.

Mr Maskey may have sounded a bit like a cracked record as three times in his victory speech he said his vote was against austerity, but there was no mistaking the passions stirred up by Tory cuts, a baton Mr Carroll also picked up and ran with. And if even he was taken aback by the scale of his support, he was disguising it well.

Mr Carroll said he had canvassed on the Falls Road and the Shankill Road where the problems facing people on both sides of the divide were exactly the same.

He has said he's not a unionist or a nationalist, but a socialist.

And he said his 'historic' result in West Belfast showed that socialism was back in the city and that his success was only the beginning that actually began just over a year ago when he was elected to Belfast City Council - itself something of a shock.

However, it was the previous West Belfast incumbent who stirred up most interest.

Gerry Adams, who gave up the seat to win an election in Louth for the Dail, did more live TV interviews at the King's Hall than anyone standing for Westminster

One candidate in West Belfast was keeping an ear open for the results elsewhere. Gerard Catney of the Alliance Party is a nephew of Pat Catney, who was running for the SDLP in Lagan Valley. Gerard polled just 636 votes, while his uncle received 2,500 votes, 16,500 behind Jeffrey Donaldson.

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