Not saying it with an X

  • Mark Devenport
  • 14 Feb 08, 05:04 PM

Before you read on, it's not Mark Devenport. It's Martina Purdy. Mark is on leave and after some effort I've managed to burrow into the blog.....

The Dromore by-election has been declared a Black day for the DUP - by the Ulster Unionist leader. Sir Reg Empey was jubilant his party's candidate Carol Black won the day in Dromore. The results were: DUP 1069, UUP 912, TUV 739, Alliance 357, SF 350, SDLP 290, Green Party 59.

The DUP might be comforting themselves by topping the poll, but in a proportional representation election, they lost out when the transfers were counted. A St Valentine's first-past-the post Westminster style X would have brought victory but the 1,2,3 PR vote only delivered defeat this time.

While Sir Reg was gloating, so was the TUV MEP. JIm Allister seemed just as delighted, declaring the result a "thumping vote of no confidence for the Chuckle Coalition." Mr Allister went on to declare it an "unhappy Valentine's Day for the Chuckle Brothers."

The DUP's Edwin Poots described the result as a protest vote which will bel istened to - and hit back. He said Mr Allister "may crow about valentines and chuckles" but insisted unionists would recognise that the TUV would not have saved Ulster from a seven council "repartition", or an Irish language act putting English on par with Irish - not to mention direct rule ministers with a greener tinge.

The question - especially in London and Dublin - is whether the DUP can recover from its "black eye" and woo back hearts and minds before the next poll.

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