Sinn Fein Set To Dominate Belfast

Republican politicians are on a high this week with Sinn Fein's Paul Maskey elected MP for West Belfast - soon after a party colleague became Belfast's third Sinn Fein mayor.

Taking over 70% of a low turnout was cause for celebration overnight as the sitting Stormont MLA Paul Maskey, now abstentionist Westminster MP said: "I am very grateful to be elected and will strive to represent each and every constituent within West Belfast.

"I will work on the (loyalist) Shankill, in Andersonstown, Suffolk, the Blacks Road, in Ballymurphy, the Lower Falls and the Colin area and every other single part of this constituency," he insisted.

Mr Maskey took 70.6% of the vote in Thursday's by-election with 16,211 votes. The turnout of 37.53% was a record low for Northern Ireland.

In second place was the SDLP's Alex Attwood on 3,088, with Gerry Carroll of People Before Profit third on 1,751.

The by-election was held after Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams resigned earlier this year to become a member of the Republic of Ireland's parliament, the Dáil.

However, Sinn Fein's MPs have never taken their seats at Westminster because they refuse to swear an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty The Queen.


This 'inclusive' sentiment echoed that of the newly elected Belfast Sinn Fein Mayor Cllr Niall Ó Donnghaile, who said yesterday that he would also represent all the people of Belfast during his term in the office - but also sent out more confusing signals.

More controversially, he has already snubbed the unionist tradition: "I have decided to make the mayor's parlour as representative and inclusive [as possible].

"Until now the artefacts on display represented primarily only one tradition - unionism," he said, noting that Sinn Fein's policy in respect of the use of political symbols and emblems in public buildings is 'equality or neutrality'.

Accordingly the mayor has added a number of items, which represent the nationalist and ethnic people of the city.

"The mayor's parlour is now more balanced of all the people of Belfast," he insisted.

Commenting on the changes, Cllr Ó Donnghaile said: "The changes I have made create a shared and inclusive space. It is a space which those visiting the parlour can relax in and see their cultural identity reflected."

Councillor Ó Donnghaile succeeds the SDLP's Pat Convery who handed over the chain of office at last month's AGM in Belfast City Hall.

He became the city's third Sinn Fein Lord Mayor, following in the footsteps of Alex Maskey in 2002 and Tom Hartley in 2008.

Councillor Ruth Patterson from the DUP was elected Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast.

See: Sinn Fein Man Is Youngest Belfast Mayor


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