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
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
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

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?