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Nationalist-unionist duopoly broken in Northern Ireland's MEP elections as three women take seats

The Alliance Party’s Naomi Long was elected with the DUP’s Diane Dodds and Martina Anderson of Sinn Féin.

Alliance party leader Naomi Long.
Alliance party leader Naomi Long.
Image: PA Images

Updated May 27th 2019, 7:06 PM

TWO PRO-REMAIN candidates have taken seats in Northern Ireland’s European election constituency in the form of Sinn Féin and the Alliance Party. 

Northern Ireland has three European Parliament seats with sitting Sinn Féin MEP Martin Anderson topping the poll with 126,951 votes.

The DUP’s sitting MEP Diane Dodds has come in second place in the vote, just under 2,000 votes behind. 

The Alliance Party’s Naomi Long came in third with 105,928 first preferences. 

Dodds was the first candidate to be elected having reached the quota after the third count. Long and Anderson were confirmed just before 7pm after the fifth count. 

Long’s performance comes three weeks after the party made significant gains in the local elections and mirrors the success of the Liberal Democrats in the UK, a party with whom the Alliance Party shares ties.

The Alliance Party does not identify as either a nationalist or unionist party but is firmly opposed to Brexit. 

Long taking a seat in the European Parliament would mean that the Ulster Unionist Party has lost a seat it has held for 40 years. 

In all of that time, Northern Ireland’s MEP’s were made up of two unionist representatives and one nationalist. 

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The SDLP’s former leader John Hume held an MEP seat for 25 years and the party’s current leader Colum Eastwood was running this time around. 

Eastwood polled in fourth place with 78,589 votes.

After arriving at the count centre, Long said she would stay on as Alliance Party leader and would vacate her MLA seat to remain as an MEP for five years. 

“More than anything I want to say thank you to the people who gave me their first preference today, anybody who have transferred to me. I take it really seriously and I will serve them to the absolute best of my ability. They have my word on that,” she told reporters

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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