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Sam McBride

Alliance could topple Sinn Féin and DUP as rivals still fail to understand party’s growing success

Sam McBride


Returning from near death in 2003 to stun opponents, Naomi Long’s centrist party has the potential to eclipse DUP and SF

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Success: Former First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson congratulates Naomi Long after she won the East Belfast seat in 2010. Credit: Julien Behal

Success: Former First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson congratulates Naomi Long after she won the East Belfast seat in 2010. Credit: Julien Behal

PA

Former Alliance leader David Ford. Credit: Paul Faith/PA

Former Alliance leader David Ford. Credit: Paul Faith/PA

PA

Patricia O’Lynn who won a seat in the recent Assembly elections

Patricia O’Lynn who won a seat in the recent Assembly elections

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Success: Former First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson congratulates Naomi Long after she won the East Belfast seat in 2010. Credit: Julien Behal

No party has grown more in the 24 years since the Good Friday Agreement than Alliance — and yet it was the Agreement which almost killed the party.

The party’s nadir was the 1999 European election when Alliance’s Sean Neeson took just 2.1% of the vote — behind the PUP and the UKUP. To put that into context, Alliance took less than a quarter of the current vote for the TUV. At that point, Alliance’s rise to become Northern Ireland’s third largest party would have seemed fanciful.


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