8 June 2000 Edition
Sinn Féin vote increases dramatically
BY CAÍTLIN DOHERTY
Sinn Féin won an extra council seat during the Erne West election and increased its support by over 1,200 votes on Wednesday 31 May.
Stephen Huggett, standing for the first time, increased the party's vote by nearly 60% to take what was previously an independent nationalist seat.
He recorded 3,233 first-preference votes, while the Ulster Unionist candidate Alan Latimer was second, with 1,455 votes. The SDLP's candidate won 1,248 and the DUP drew a slim 398.
The vote has sent shock-waves in the area. Sinn Féin is now the largest nationalist party on Fermanagh council with six councillors and its strength is only growing as the party has added a solid 1,200 voices to its register.
Stephen Huggett said the latest success was a good sign for the future of the party on Fermanagh Council.
``What the unionists will have to be looking at in the future is eight or nine Sinn Féin councillors next year,'' he said. ``That will certainly change the entire dynamic there.''
The most interesting factor in the election is that, while Sinn Féin's vote rose dramatically, all the other parties' support dropped.
The figures show that the nationalist vote is coming out strongly in a clear endorsement of the wider political picture and of Sinn Féin's peace strategy. In contrast, the divisions and fractures in unionism are more apparent than ever in the area.
The SDLP, already shaken by the recent by-election in Omagh, saw its vote drop by 200. The Ulster Unionists poll fell by 800 votes.
The trend of a rapidly expanding Sinn Féin vote across the Six Counties, evidenced by the by-elections in Antrim, Toome/Randelstown and Omagh, has been further confirmed by the election of Steven Huggett.
This success was made possible by the work of tireless republican activists whose commitment to better representation for the nationalist people through the growth of Sinn Féin has laid the groundwork for further electoral victories.
Sinn Féin wins landmark vote in Newtownabbey
BY CAÍTLIN DOHERTY
The steady rise in the Sinn Féin vote was again rubber-stamped by the Newtonabbey by election in Glengormley. Roisin McGurk, who has a solid track record in community affairs, polled an extreely impressive total of 1,063 votes.
This was the first time Sinn Féin had stood a candidate in the area and the landmark success of the party is a marker for future electoral battles.
The total number of votes cast exceeded the quota, indicating that the party will secure at least a seat during the next council elections, an indication of the growing frustration of nationalists in the area, who have until now had little or no representation.
The turnout for the by-election was higher than for the local government elections. The borough is developing and dramatically expanding, changes that will be reflected at a political level.
McGurk said she was very pleased with the result. ``Local residents and voters have given Sinn Féin a massive vote of support in our political project to bring strong nationalist representation, equality and accountability to the Newtownabbey Borough council,'' she said.