Stormont's First Minister Peter Robinson unseated after year of scandal

A huge upset in Northern Ireland saw the unexpected defeat of Peter Robinson, who is both First Minister and leader of the Democratic Unionist party.

He lost the East Belfast seat he has held for more than 30 years to Naomi Long of the Alliance party, a grouping which has never won a Westminster seat but which is aligned to the Liberal Democrats.

The assumption is that Mr Robinson was fatally damaged by the accusations of sleaze which have surrounded his party and in particular himself in recent months. His perceived closeness to property developers evidently cost him many votes, as his 6,000 majority evaporated.

Other DUP candidates by contrast did not experience such punishment at the hands of the voters, suggesting their leader had suffered for personal rather than political reasons.

For example, the DUP comfortably held the Strangford seat vacated by Mr Robinson's wife Iris, who withdrew from public life following sexual revelations.

Ian Paisley Junior won the North Antrim seat which had been held by his father, former DUP leader the Rev Ian Paisley, for forty years. His victory was celebrated, as it traditional in Paisley territory, with a rendering of the hymn "Oh God from whom all blessings flow."

However, the DUP vote fell in a number of other areas.



A recount was called in traditionally hard-fought Fermanagh-South Tyrone after a unionist candidate was just six votes ahead of Sinn Fein.



On Wednesday night Mr Robinson triumphantly produced a letter from Gordon Brown which acceded to his demand that the financial block grant transferred from London to Belfast would not, as threatened, be cut in the present financial year.



This showed, he said, that the DUP was destined to enjoy enhanced influence at Westminster.



Mr Robinson's parliamentary downfall has both Westminster and local implications. He had been looking forward eagerly to heading a DUP phalanx to negotiate with the Tories or Labour in the event of a hung parliament.



Instead DUP representation at Westminister will be at a maximum of eight seats. The party will nonetheless remain highly interested in any approaches form either the Conservtives or Labour.



In Belfast politics, meanwhile, the question is whether Mr Robinson, who is effectively Northern Ireland's prime minister in tandem with Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness, will remain in office locally.



Mr Robinson has been a mainstay of the peace process but the financial clouds surrounding him have clearly caused some damage. He, or his party, may feel that the time has come for a new leader since the loss of his seat will certainly reduce his authority.



Anti-Assembly elements did not poll well, with Mr Paisley Jr scoring a very comfortable victory over Jim Allister of the Traditional Unionist Voice, which opposes the peace process.



The menace of more militant anti-political elements was all too visible early this morning when counting in Londonderry was suspended due to a bomb alert. Votes from the Foyle and East Londonderry constituencies were being counted at a local sports centre when a hijacked car was abandoned nearby.



Army bomb experts ordered an evacuation of the premises while they carried out a controlled explosion on the vehicle. Counting was resumed after a disruption which lasted more than an hour. The incident was condemned by a wide range of politicians, who described it as an attack on democracy.



Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams comfortably held his West Belfast seat with a 17,000 majority, signalling that recent allegations of involvement in 1970s murders had no significant effect on his support.



The overall Sinn Fein performance confirmed the party's status as the major party of Northern Ireland nationalism while the DUP, though somewhat more bruised and battered, are still the leaders of loyalism.



The Ulster Unionists, by contrast, which had hoped for a boost from its link-up with the Conservatives, ended with no seats, shattering the Cameron hope of building a "new force" in Northern Ireland politics.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power