Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Martin McGuinness increases share of vote in Mid-Ulster

Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness increased his share of the vote while easily retaining his Mid-Ulster seat.

The abstentionist MP took 21,239 of the 41,139 ballots cast - a jump in support of almost 5% since the last General Election.

"This has been a stunning victory in a reduced turnout," he said.

The result was no great surprise in a constituency that is around two-thirds nationalist and considered one of the safest seats for Sinn Fein.

Mr McGuinness's closest rival - the DUP's Ian McCrea, whose vote almost halved - was more than 15,000 votes behind him.

The Deputy First Minister defended his party's abstentionist policy at Westminster, insisting he remained at the heart of governance despite not taking his seat in the House of Commons.

"I've been in Downing Street more often than many Labour MPs over the course of the last 15 years," he said.

Mr McGuinness congratulated the Alliance Party's Naomi Long on her shock defeat over First Minister Peter Robinson, but insisted he would continue to work with his DUP partner if he remained at the helm of the Stormont Executive.

The difficulties between unionism and republicanism had mostly been laid to rest by the poor support for the anti-power sharing Traditional Unionist Voice, he claimed.

"I intend, if Peter Robinson is going to continue as First Minister, to work in a positive and constructive way with him," he said.

Mr McGuinness also hit out at those behind a bomb scare that disrupted the Foyle constituency count in his native Derry.

"These people are totally at odds with the vast majority of people of the North and where the people of Ireland are at," he said.

"They are desperate people on a hopeless road to nowhere."

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