Letter: Catholic need not mean nationalist

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Sir: David McKittrick ('Pause in killing dashes peace hopes', 1 April) asserts that Ken Maginnis, Unionist MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (a majority Roman Catholic constituency), owes his seat to a split nationalist vote between Sinn Fein and the SDLP. This is untrue.

At the 1992 general election, Mr Maginnis polled 26,923 votes, while the SDLP candidate polled 12,810 and Sinn Fein 12,604; the latter two together making a total of 25,414. The combined nationalist vote was therefore more than 1,500 votes short of the Unionist total. Similarly, in the 1987 general election, Mr Maginnis's vote was more than 2,000 ahead of the combined nationalist total.

From these figures, it is obvious that Mr Maginnis enjoys support from both Protestant and Roman Catholic voters. It may be convenient for Mr McKittrick to assume that all Roman Catholics are nationalists, but this assumption does not stand up to scrutiny, either by way of opinion polls, which regularly show that up to 85 per cent of people in Northern Ireland are quite happy to remain in the UK, or through his ill-chosen example of Mr Maginnis.

Yours faithfully,


MP for Antrim East (UUP)

House of Commons

London, SW1

1 April