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Nationalists score first ever majority in Westminster poll

IRISH unity moved a step closer to reality yesterday after nationalists in the north of Ireland won a majority of the six counties’ Commons seats for the first time since partition in 1921.

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald said: “We are heading towards a border poll. I can’t give you a definitive date, but we need to do the spade work now and prepare ourselves.”

Her party held seven of its seats, while the Social Democratic Labour Party won two seats. The results put parties favouring Irish unity ahead of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which fell from 10 seats to eight.

Ms McDonald added: “We need to, in an orderly fashion, structure the conversation about a new Ireland and constitutional change. I don’t think unionism should be alarmed or frightened — this is a huge opportunity for everybody who lives on this island.”

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds lost his Belfast North seat to Sinn Fein’s John Finucane in one of the most celebrated results of the night.

Irish Taoseach Leo Varadker warned against any move towards a united Ireland yesterday, claiming that the priority must be to get the Northern Ireland Assembly functioning again.

If Stormont remains suspended, fresh assembly elections will take place by January 13.


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