Irish News, Belfast. June 20, 1970

Posted By: June 20, 2020

On This Day [in history]

By Eamonn Phoenix
Irish News, Saturday, June 20, 2020
Minority Voice

Anti-Unionist candidates scored a resounding treble at the General Election when the redoubtable pair, Gerry Fitt and Bernadette Devlin, were returned to Westminster with increased majorities and Frank McManus became the new Member for Fermanagh-South Tyrone at the expense of the outgoing Unionist. This is now the most formidable anti-Unionist representation ever to sit in the British House of Commons.

Mr. Fitt’s notable success has now transformed his marginal seat into a safe anti-Unionist constituency. In the early stages of the Mid-Ulster campaign, Miss Devlin’s chances of being returned appeared to be slim with two other candidates competing for her votes. However, the vast majority of Nationalists disregarded the opposition to her. Mr McManus’s victory was also a fine performance. .

       The election of the Rev Ian Paisley, Protestant Unionist leader, at the expense of the official Unionist candidate contributes an increased menace to peace and order in the community. It also reflects the disintegrating process in the Unionist Party. (The Irish News commented: ‘If the return to power of the Tory government is cause for apprehension among the  minority, there will be universal satisfaction that three voices at least will be raised from the Opposition side, urging the Tories into continuing the momentum of reform …We can be certain that the return of hard-line Unionists of the calibre of Kilfedder and Molyneaux and the flamboyant demagoguery of Mr Paisley means that every stop will be pulled out to negative reform…. History has also taught the minority to regard the Conservative Party as the defenders of Unionism, right or wrong.…’)