General election 2010: Peter Robinson loses seat to Alliance party
Peter Robinson loses to Alliance party by 12,839 to 11,306. Shock result raises questions over DUP leadership
The Alliance lord mayor of Belfast, Naomi Long, gained 12,839 votes over Robinson’s 11,306 in the first minister’s citadel. Robinson had held the East Belfast seat since 1979 and his defeat today raises serious questions over his continued leadership of the Democratic Unionist party.
Long denied that her victory was due to local anger over allegations of financial corruption and revelations about Robinson’s wife Iris’s affair with a teenager.
On top of his wife’s scandal, Robinson had to face allegations of making a huge profit from the sale of access land.
Robinson rejects allegations of impropriety and yesterday denied his defeat signalled the end of his leadership not only of the DUP but also as first minister. “I have a job to do and I have a job to complete and I will continue to carry out that important work,” he said.
But the DUP did remain set to retain its other eight Westminster seats, with the party seeing off a challenge from the hardline anti-power-sharing Traditional Unionist Voice. The TUV’s poor showing means that there is no immediate threat to power-sharing. Ian Paisley Jr easily defeated the TUV leader Jim Allister.
The general election proved more disastrous for the new Ulster Unionist-Conservative party, with the party gaining no seats. Their best hope of a seat, Sir Reg Empey, lost the South Antrim constituency to the sitting MP, the DUP’s William McCrea, by just over 1,000 votes. A senior Ulster Unionist, David McNarry, said Empey’s position as party leader was now under question. Their former MP, Lady Sylvia Hermon, romped home in her North Down constituency with a majority of almost 15,000 over her nearest rival.
There was also a knife-edge vote in Fermanagh-South Tyrone where the Unionist Unity candidate, Rodney Conner, was eight votes ahead of the Sinn Féin MP, Michelle Gildernew. Sinn Féin has demanded a recount.
Earlier dissident republicans disrupted the count in East Derry and Foyle – after leaving a car with a suspicious device in the car park of the counting centre in Derry city. Counting resumed later and in the first of the two constituencies to be declared, the SDLP leader, Mark Durkan, was re-elected to represent Foyle.