Belfast Telegraph

General Election 2019

Sinn Fein jubilation over Finucane North Belfast victory tempered by loss of McCallion in Foyle

Mixed fortunes for party which returned same number of MPs

Mark Edwards

By Mark Edwards

Sinn Fein's jubilation over John Finucane successfully unseating DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds in North Belfast was tempered by the loss of Elisha McCallion in Foyle, the party said.

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The republican party managed to maintain the same number of seats (seven) as it managed to secure in the 2017 election. However, its vote share across Northern Ireland dropped.


Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy, speaking on Radio Ulster's Talkback, said: "Any day you go out to election and you hold the same number of seats and you make very significant gains, such as John Finucane did in North Belfast, isn't a bad day out.

"Nonetheless, we are very disappointed to lose Elisha McCallion in Foyle. She has been a tireless advocate for that constituency and I have no doubt she will continue to be a tireless advocate for Derry in the time ahead.

"We don't take our vote for granted, we never have done, so where we have had a reduction in vote we will have to look at that and analysis that.

"Some constituencies are considered to be very safe. Perhaps the motivation to vote in a cold winter's night was an issue."

Sinn Fein's Elisha McCallion pictured at the count centre in Meadowbank Sports Arena, Magherafelt. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
Sinn Fein's Elisha McCallion pictured at the count centre in Meadowbank Sports Arena, Magherafelt. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press

Ms McCallion's vote share in Foyle went down a huge 19% while SDLP leader Colum Eastwood saw his share go up 17% meaning he took the seat with a huge 17,000 majority.

The SDLP lost the seat by 169 votes in 2017.

Mr Murphy congratulated Mr Eastwood on his "impressive result".

Asked what saw the huge swing in vote, Mr Murphy said the people of Londonderry wanted representation in Westminster.

"People in Derry bought into the notion that they want representation in Westminster, that somehow that will have an impact," he said.

"That is their choice, the electorate are ultimately the people who give the verdicts, so good luck to them.

"I am not convinced and never have been that there will be any effect of MP's sitting on the back benches."

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald said it was an "historic election" and a "defining moment in our politics".

"Brexit has changed the political landscape in Ireland, in Britain and in Europe," she said.

"All the old certainties are gone.

"In this election, voters clearly responded to co-operation between pro-remain, progressive parties and that has demonstrated once again that the majority of people in the north are opposed to being dragged out of the EU, opposed to any hardening of the border in Ireland and want to protect the Good Friday Agreement and the all-Ireland economy."

Ms McDonald called for the political institutions in Northern Ireland to be restored on a "credible and sustainable basis."

"I and our negotiating team stand ready to re-enter talks with the two governments and the other parties on Monday and we will work towards securing agreement on outstanding issues," she said.

"We need a new kind of politics, a new Assembly and a new Executive, which is underpinned by the resources to deliver quality public services.

"Alongside this, it is now impossible to ignore the growing demand for a referendum on Irish Unity and I want to reiterate Sinn Fein's call for the Irish government to establish an All-Ireland Forum on Irish Unity without delay."

John Finucane at the General Election count in Belfast on December 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
John Finucane at the General Election count in Belfast on December 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Nigel Dodds during the General Election count in Belfast on December 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
SDLP's Claire Hanna wins a seat in South Belfast at the General Election Count at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast during the Early hours of Friday morning. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Emma Pengelly and Arlene Foster during the General Election count in Belfast on December 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood is elected MP (Niall Carson/PA)
Sinn Fein's Elisha McCallion pictured at the count centre in Meadowbank Sports Arena, Magherafelt. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
Stephen Farry of the Alliance Party with party leader Naomi Long after he won the North Down constituency in the UK General Election at the Aurora Aquatic and Leisure Complex, Bangor, Northern Ireland. Michael Cooper/PA Wire
Alex Easton, DUP pictured at the count centre in Bangor. Photo by Brian Little / Press Eye
Gavin Robinson with his wife Lindsey and party leader Arlene Foster pictured at the count centre. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Naomi Long during the General Election count in Belfast on December 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Michelle O'Neill and Paul Maskey pictured at the count centre. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Election count at Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast for Belfast East, Belfast South, Belfast West, Belfast North, East Antrim & South Down. Sammy Wilson pictured at the count centre. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Steve Aiken pictured at the count centre. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
The DUP’s Gregory Campbell is returned s MP for East Londonderry. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew pictured with Michelle ONeill at the count centre in Omagh after winning the Fermanagh and South Tyrone seat. Photo by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
UUP Tom Elliott pictured at the count centre in Omagh. Photo by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has held his seat in Lagan Valley pictured at the count centre in Meadowbank Sports Arena, Magherafelt. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
Sinn Féin Francie Molloy is returned as MP for Mid Ulster. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
Sinn Fein's Mickey Brady(centre) is returned as MP for Newry and Armagh. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
The DUP's Ian Paisley (left) is returned as MP for North Antrim. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th December 2019 General Election 2019 - Election count at Meadowbank Sports Arena, Magherafelt for Newry & Armagh, South Antrim, North Antrim, Upper Bann, East Londonderry, Foyle, Lagan Valley and Mid Ulster. The DUPÕs Paul Girvan(left) is returned as MP for South Antrim. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
Chris Hassard, centre, pictured at the count centre. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th December 2019 - General Election 2019 - Election count at Aurora Leisure Complex, Bangor for Strangford and North Down. Jim Shannon, DUP with his mother Mona and wife Sandra after being elected in Strangford. Photo by Brian LittleÊ / Press Eye
The DUP's Carla Lockhart is returned as MP for Upper Bann and is pictured with her baby boy Charlie. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
Sinn Fein's Orfhlaith Begley pictured after she won her seat back in West Tyrone Photo by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.

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