Belfast North: John Finucane fails to unseat DUP’s Nigel Dodds
DUP deputy leader says party will play important role in challenges facing UK
The DUP’s Nigel Dodds, left, with Arlene Foster, Emma Little Pengelly and Gavin Robinson, won 21,240 votes compared with John Finucane’s 19,159. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images
Mr Dodds, on 21,240, votes was more than 2,000 votes ahead of Mr Finucane who, on his first foray into politics, won 19,159 votes.
While Mr Dodds has held the seat since 2001 this was the highest vote that he recorded and the first time he exceeded 20,000 votes.
Sinn Féin had hopes that Mr Finucane, son of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane, could generate sufficient momentum in North Belfast to dislodge Mr Dodds.
While he fell short he still won the highest vote that Sinn Féin ever gained in the constituency.
In the 2015 election, Sinn Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly won 13,770 votes which at the time was the highest vote won by the party in the constituency.
Mr Finucane, who is also a solicitor, increased that vote by more than 5,000 votes.
Mr Finucane said he had received the “biggest mandate any republican ever received in North Belfast”. He declined to say, however, whether he would continue in frontline Sinn Féin politics.
Mr Dodds in his victory speech focused on his own high vote and his fifth successive victory. “The DUP has made history in North Belfast and there is more to come,” he said.
And referring to the overall success of the DUP in the election, he added, “This has not only been a great night for the DUP but a great night for the union that we love.”
With his MEP wife Diane, DUP leader Arlene Foster and former leader Peter Robinson looking on, Mr Dodds said: “This election was fought in the face of terrible terrorist atrocities across the UK and in this next parliament the DUP will play a very important role in terms of the great challenges that this country faces.”
Mr Dodds said the DUP would make its “influence felt” in Westminster for the benefit of the people of Northern Ireland. This would include working to get the best Brexit deal for the North.
Previous Westminster elections
2010 – Nigel Dodds (DUP) defeated Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly (14,812 votes to 12,588).
2015 – Mr Dodds again beat Mr Kelly (14,812 to 12,588).