Well the results are in and the votes are counted as far as the Westminster 05 election is concerned.
Sinn Féin have had a steady, if not spectacular, result. I'll be the first to admit that Sinn Féin had been hoping to add Foyle and South Down to their Westminster strongholds but alas, this was not to be, both Mark Durkan and Eddie McGrady held on. Both candidates were greatly aided by Unionist tactical votes, although it must be said that both seemed to win their seats with the majority of Nationalist support in their respective constituencies. Sinn Féin did make a vital gain in Newry & Armagh as Seamus Mallon's old seat was taken by Conor Murphy with a huge majority. I was delighted to cast my vote for Conor yesterday and I am certain he will be an extremely effective representative for Newry & Armagh.
Overall, Sinn Féin have consolidated their position as the main Nationalist party with 24.3% of the vote, compared to 17.5% from the SDLP. While this represents an increase in the gap between the parties since the November 03 results, it is not as resounding a result as might have been hoped for. It will interesting to see if the local election results on Monday will see Sinn Féin climb to the 26.3% they received last June. However, it must be said that, in the midst of such a vicious media onslaught in the past few months, Sinn Féin can be happy that their voters have resolutely stuck with them and refused to give in to the governments' demands to criminalise Republicans.
On the Unionist side, the UUP were almost completly demolished by their DUP counterpart, with Trimble's party retaining only 1 seat. The UUP leader was himself unseated by the DUP's David Simpson and it seems his resignation as leader of the UUP will be iminent.