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19 June 1997 Edition

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Back issue: `It's your victory'

``It's your victory, it's your election, it's your seat,'' Gerry Adams MP told hundreds of jubilant supporters on the Falls Road on Friday afternoon.

Even before the news broke that Sinn Féin President Adams had, for a second time, been elected MP for West Belfast, crowds began congregating outside the Republican Press Centre. Old and young had come. Parents rushed out of their homes with all the children in tow.

Men and women clapped and cheered until they were hoarse. Youngsters were hoisted onto parents' shoulders for a better view. In the atmosphere of general exhilaration, the MP's hand was shaken a thousand times. More than one grandmother clasped Adams in an emotional bearhug.

Behind two high wooden doors, piles of votes were being counted. Those outside anxiously watched those doors, poised to pounce on any co-worker emerging with the latest news. ``How many unionists voted for Hendron?'' Another whispered: ``What about Andersonstown?'' Looking good.

And so the wait continued. The young Sinn Féin supporters, conducting themselves quietly and with dignity, showed no signs of being intimidated - either by the large force of heavily-armed RUC men in the corridors, or by the glares of hostile loyalists, or by the grandiose columns and marble staircases of City Hall itself, built as an extravagant symbol of unionist domination.

For once, its corridors were filled by working-class people.

But there were no crowds of SDLP supporters, just a handful of career politicians. The SDLP's Alex Atwood - tipped as a possible future SDLP contender for West Belfast - was telling journalists to come to him before approaching the current SDLP candidate. ``Hendron's under pressure,'' intoned Alex smoothly.

After nearly five nail-biting hours, news came of good Sinn Féin results in the other Belfast seats, particularly North Belfast where candidate Paddy McManus increased Sinn Féin's share of the total poll.

Sinn Féin smiles grew broader while the RUC looked correspondingly glum.

An Phoblacht 18 June 1987.


An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

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