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A bitter consensus

Because the violence is over, Northern Irish voters feel free to back the hardliners

By Richard Bourke   June 2005

The 2005 election in Northern Ireland has wiped out the centre ground. Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist party trounced the Ulster Unionists, who had dominated the politics of the province since 1920. When the Good Friday agreement was signed in 1998, supported by a narrow majority of unionists, the UUP held ten of the 18 Westminster seats allotted to Northern Ireland, while the DUP held two. Today, the DUP has nine MPs while the UUP has just one.

Every other vehicle of electoral moderation on the Protestant side seems equally stalled or bust: the moderate Alliance party barely made a showing…

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