Last time John Finucane unzipped he was caught by cops pissing on the street. This time his aim was more precise and not prohibited by law. He scored a direct hit straight into the eye of Nigel Dodds, while managing to piss all over territory the DUP haughtily thought its own.
It was a pleasing result and one which Finucane's predecessor candidate Gerry Kelly never seemed likely to achieve no matter how many forays he made. It would have been an even more welcome outcome had the battle in the UK not been fought so poorly and lost so badly by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. In a hung parliament, or one with a slight Tory majority, every anti-Brexit seat increases Remain's leverage value. And while Finucane would not have been attending Westminster, his possession of the seat means that Nigel Dodds had nowhere in Westminster to park his sorry ass. One less seat for the Brexiteers to claim as their own. Pretty academic now given the large Tory majority, it seemed much more substantive in the five weeks electioneering period.
Almost equally as pleasing to the discriminating palate was the SDLP gain in Foyle where Colum Eastwood trounced the sitting MP Elisha McCallion of Sinn Fein. Both candidates there were anti-Brexit but Eastwood’s opposition, because of McCallion’s abstentionist position, was always going to be the more effective.
The son of Pat Finucane taking the North Belfast seat was an event saturated in symbolism. The DUP which robustly supported the actions of British security personnel during the North’s Dirty War - no transgression bad enough to earn opprobrium - and which still seeks to have the same players evade accountability, has in a sense been confronted and impaled by a Gladiator of its own making. My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius … son to a murdered father … and I will have my vengeance in this life or the next.
Not verbatim but close enough to make the point.
The hate machine was cranked up against John Finucane, every foible magnified, the past of every uncle amplified. Despite the naked hatred, the son to a murdered father managed to galvanise enough nationalists while his presence in the gladiatorial arena failed to infuriate a sufficent number of unionists to even things out. Sinn Fein got it over the line whereas the DUP dropped the ball well short of the posts. Finucane's win was pretty comfortable, by almost two thousand and parallel with having increased his vote from 2017 by around 4000, while the vote of Dull Dodds remained stagnant. Not exactly the too close to call event many felt it to be.
The DUP probably lost the seat because of its support for Brexit. While Arleen Foster claimed pulling out of the EU was not a factor, instead trying to resurrect the spectre of the pan nationalist front, John Finucane said it was something raised on many doorsteps. He is the more believable of the two. Out of 18 MPs returned, 10 are opposed to Brexit. Has to tell us something.
The election was a self-inflicted DUP debacle. With Jo Swinson gone, Jeremy Corbyn certain to follow, Arleen Foster remains determined to insist that for all her grandstanding on the need for the North not to be treated differently from the UK, the guillotine is not to make its way across the Irish sea.