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We need another Assembly election for unionist politicians to try and forge lead over nationalists

I'm sure we all welcome our hard-working MLAs back to Stormont from their long and exhausting summer break.

While they chunter on about how they're going to restore devolved government at the Northern Ireland Assembly, Hurricane Barnier is lashing British territories and Brexiteers stoically lashed to the main mast.

The future of the only land border between the EU and UK clearly exercises some minds and local politicians appear to think that shouting into the face of 180mph winds is a sensible course of action. The only measure that we currently have of support for either unionism or nationalism is from the first-preference votes cast in elections to the Assembly for either designated unionists or nationalists and this is the measure which the EU's chief negotiator has at hand when determining whether the 56% Northern Ireland vote in favour of remaining in the EU has any validity.

The evidence then is that designated unionists secured 44.67% of first preferences in this year's elections to the Assembly, which is a mere 3% higher than that for nationalists. Arguably, then, there is currently no more support for unionism than for nationalism and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is in no position to argue otherwise.

There is, then, a strong argument to be made in favour of another Assembly election to allow unionists the opportunity to put clear blue water between themselves and nationalists.

Bernard J Mulholland

Belfast

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