Northern Ireland news

Westminster election is Northern Ireland's seventh poll in three years

British prime minister Theresa May yesterday at Downing Street, London
Brendan Hughes

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THE Westminster election in June will be the seventh poll for Northern Ireland voters in just over three years.

The north voted in council and European Parliament elections in 2014, a Westminster election in 2015, an assembly election and the EU referendum in 2016, and a snap Stormont election last month.

On top of the forthcoming Westminster vote, political deadlock at Stormont could also lead to another snap MLA election – the third assembly poll in just over a year.

There is also speculation of an early election being called in the Republic following last year's vote if taoiseach Enda Kenny steps down as Fine Gael leader.

Although another Stormont election this year would be unprecedented territory for Northern Ireland, across the border political instability once led to three within 18 months.

The Dáil election of June 1981, held amid the hunger strikes, was the first of five in the decade.

The vote saw Fine Gael and Labour form a minority coalition government, with Garret Fitzgerald appointed taoiseach.

Fianna Fáil suffered its worst election in 20 years amid success for anti H-Block candidates standing in support of hunger strikers.

However, the coalition lasted just seven months as a defeat of a budget saw its collapse, culminating in a return to the polls in February 1982.

It led to Fianna Fáil forming a minority government with Charles Haughey as taoiseach.

His reign ended within the year though, as a loss of support over budget cuts resulted in a fresh election in November.

Garrett Fitzgerald was again installed as taoiseach in a Fine Gael-Labour coalition, as his party recorded its biggest election victory until 2011. The government remained in place until 1987.

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