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Kingmaker dream is faded but influence on cards

DUP MPs Nigel Dodds , Gavin Robinson and Jeffrey Donaldson alongside leader Peter Robinson.

Its significance wasn't noted at the time but with hindsight it's plain to see why the DUP chose to launch the party's election manifesto in the heart of South Antrim.

The party clearly knew that William McCrea was vulnerable and was keen to show the constituency's electorate how much the seat mattered.

It was at that manifesto launch, in a subsidiary of Wrightbus, where Peter Robinson spoke of the pivotal role his party could play in the event of a hung parliament.

But when all the votes had been counted, it seemed the DUP dream of becoming 'kingmaker' at Westminster had faded as the Tories amassed the necessary seats without having to rely on outside help.

To add to the DUP's disappointment, McCrea was dethroned by castle-dwelling liberal unionist Danny Kinahan.

It's not all bad news for the north's largest party, however. The DUP succeeded in its primary aim of winning back East Belfast from Alliance and also held off the threat from UUP's Jo-Anne Dobson in Upper Bann, with its overall share of the vote across 18 constituencies increasing by 0.7 per cent.

While the party's immediate influence at Westminster may have diminished it would be wrong to assume it won't be called upon in the future to bolster the Conservatives on key votes.

The Tories' majority is adequate but minimal and therefore vulnerable to the vagaries of backbenchers, particularly as the term advances.

So while the DUP parliamentarians may not be hold the balance of power they may still be in a position to extract concessions from the British government, and although their MP quota may be at least one short of what was expected, they haven't too much to be concerned about – apart from perhaps a UUP renaissance?

:: In a sentence: What you gain on the swings you lose on the roundabouts

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