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 A/V REPORTS
The BBC's James Reynolds
"This election was seen by many as a referendum on the Good Friday agreement"
 real 56k

Friday, 8 June, 2001, 17:39 GMT 18:39 UK
DUP gains three seats
Dodds
Dodds: "One in the eye for Trimble"
The DUP has gained a third seat from the Ulster Unionist Party.

Iris Robinson took the Strangford constituency with a majority of about 1,000 votes.

In 1997 she was defeated by 6,000 votes.

Mrs Robinson said hers was an "historic victory" and her door was open to all her constituents whether or not they had voted for her.

Earlier Gregory Campbell took the East Londonderry seat from the Ulster Unionist Party.

Its candidate, the sitting MP Willie Ross, was defeated by almost 2,000 votes.

"There is a God in heaven," said Mr Campbell about his win.


Gregory Campbell: New MP for East Londonderry
Earlier Nigel Dodds of the DUP captured the North Belfast seat with a landslide majority.

The vote of his opponent Cecil Walker, the sitting MP, was down by about 40%.

The losses are is a serious blow for the Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble.

"This is one in the eye for the pan-nationalist front and for David Trimble," said Mr Dodds.

SDLP vote collapse

He added that it was also a victory for those who didn't want "gunmen in government".

The DUP leader Ian Paisley went further: "Nigel Dodds whipped them, whipped them, whipped them," he said of the UUP.

He took his own seat in North Antrim with an increase in his majority of about 3,000.

The party's Deputy Leader Peter Robinson regained East Belfast.

However there has also been a gain for the Ulster Unionists.


Lady Sylvia Hermon wins North Down for the UUP
Lady Sylvia Hermon took the North Down seat from the UKUP leader Bob McCartney.

Anti-Agreement Mr McCartney said about his defeat that he had lived long enough to know triumph and diasaster.

He said he was disappointed not to have kept his seat but jibed that the Ulster Unionist Party had won because the "unelectable" Alliance Party had stood down in favour of Lady Hermon.

She becomes the first woman MP to be elected in Northern Ireland since Bernadette Devlin in the 1960s.

She said she hoped it would encourage other women to become involved in politics: "It's a very good message to send out."

And she joked that she thought her husband, the former RUC Chief Constable Sir Jack Hermon, would cope all right without her at home.


Defeated heavily: Cecil Walker

"It's amazing what he can do when I'm not in the kitchen," she said."

Two of the UUP's anti-Agreement MPs have also been returned to their constituences in South Belfast and Lagan Valley.

Rev Martin Smyth's seat in South Belfast was the first to be declared.

Jeffrey Donaldson was elected again to Lagan Valley with an increase of about 1,300 votes.

Another DUP gain?

In South Antrim the UUP have overturned their by-election defeat of last September.

David Burnside won the seat back from Willie McCrea of the DUP with a majority of about 1,000.


Nigel Dodds whipped them, whipped them, whipped them

Ian Paisley on the UUP
On the nationalist side Sinn Fein has won the West Tyrone seat from the UUP.

It also recaptured its seats in Mid-Ulster and West Belfast with increased majorities.

In Londonderry the SDLP leader John Hume was returned again but his majority was down in favour of Sinn Fein.

Republicans are also claiming they have taken the Fermanagh seat.

There is a recount there.

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