DUP and Sinn Fein make gains as SDLP and Alliance falter

DUP and Sinn Fein make gains as SDLP and Alliance falter

DUP and Sinn Fein make gains as SDLP and Alliance falter

In the first sign that the general election would bring a surge in the DUP's fortunes, its Lagan Valley MP, Jeffrey Donaldson, was returned with 26,762 votes - up almost 8,000 on his majority in the last election. If it repeats the stunt in the ongoing election, the number of seats the Conservatives need to regain to keep a majority will be down to 324, instead of the current 326.

Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservatives will fall short of a majority by winning 314 seats in the election, according to an exit poll.

As counting in the region concluded shortly after 4.30am, the SDLP and UUP were both left licking their political wounds after losing all of their Westminster representatives.

Donaldson stressed the DUP "would not be parochial but would make decisions that would be beneficial for the whole of the United Kingdom".

The Democratic Unionists and Sinn Fein made significant gains as the Ulster Unionists and SDLP were wiped off the Westminster map.

Asked about backing the Tories in a post-election deal, Foster said: "We have always said that we would put forward the strongest possible team in any Brexit negotiations. If there is a deal that will benefit Northern Ireland and satisfy the needs of the people, then we will take it".

The SDLP and UUP, the two parties who together forged the Good Friday Agreement and for decades held the pre-eminent positions in Northern Ireland politics, now are without a single MP between them.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams made clear there was "no danger whatsoever" of his party ditching its abstentionist policy, even if its seats become crucial in the final reckoning.

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