Friday 22 September 2017

Century of unionist hegemony ends, but North is more divided than ever

Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt, with his wife Lynda Bryans, after announcing his resignation when his party failed to make a breakthrough in the Northern Ireland Assembly election. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA
Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt, with his wife Lynda Bryans, after announcing his resignation when his party failed to make a breakthrough in the Northern Ireland Assembly election. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA
John Downing

John Downing

This is big stuff. Unionist parties have lost their absolute majority in a Northern Ireland parliament for the first time since the province's creation in 1921.

Sinn Féin came within 1,168 votes of becoming the most popular party across Northern Ireland for the first time ever. In practice both nationalists and unionists are neck and neck and, unsurprisingly, Gerry Adams and co are ramping up talk about Border polls as 'A Nation Once Again' plays in the background.

But before we all get ahead of ourselves here, let's note that some things are still the same. Or, things may have been made worse by Thursday's unwanted and bitterly divisive election to the Stormont assembly.

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