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"It doesn't belong to Bobby Sands": Gains for Unionists as Sinn Féin lose marginal seat

It was a good night for the UUP in particular – who head back to London with two seats (up from zero).

Britain Northern Ireland Election DUP leader Peter Robinson celebrates with his general election candidates Nigel Dodds, left, Gavin Robinson, 2nd right, and Jeffrey Donaldson, after they were elected as MPs. Source: Peter Morrison

ULSTER UNIONIST TOM Elliot has claimed the Fermanagh and South Tyrone constituency from Sinn Féin, as the party regained representation in Westminster in the UK general election.

The constituency was one of four where the two main unionist parties, the UUP and the DUP, formed an electoral pact.

Elliot topped the poll with 23,608 votes – beating SF’s Michelle Gildernew by 530.

The seat was once held by IRA hunger-striker Bobby Sands – and in his victory speech, the former UUP leader made reference to that fact, saying:

“This is not a green constituency. It doesn’t belong to Bobby Sands.

It belongs to the people of Fermanagh and South Tyrone and that is who I intend to represent.

Gildernew, meanwhile, paid tribute in her speech to “people of all faiths and none” and said she was proud and humbled to have gained such support.

Elsewhere in the North, there was also success for the DUP’s Gavin Robinson – another beneficiary of that pact – as he defeated Naoimi Long on the Alliance in East Belfast.

Overall, the DUP are heading back to London with 8 seats (no change), Sinn Féin have four (down one), the SDLP still have three, the UUP have two, and Independent Unionist Lady Sylcia Hermon has also been reelected.

In a statement, Sin Féin leader Gerry Adams said his party had faced “a unionist pact held together by opposition to change, opposition to equality and in support of a union that is imposing austerity”.

“This was most evident in Fermanagh/South Tyrone where all shades of unionism combined with the Tory party to unseat a republican woman.

“Given the small margin of difference Sinn Fein asked for a recount but this was refused.

“The people of Fermanagh and South Tyrone will come together to regain this seat from the right-wing unionist alliance,” Adams said.

AS IT HAPPENED: Tories on course for majority, SNP storms Scotland … and Miliband set to quit

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