Census 2001: Republican disappointment

The Daily Telegraph sees the results as a major set-back for Republican strategists, something dissident Republican commentator Anthony McIntyre echoes strongly in this week’s edition of the Blanket:

Nationalist number crunchers have been frustrated on two major counts. Firstly, the share of the nationalists fell considerably short of the anticipated 46%. Secondly, the unionists were more than 3% over the predicted minus-50%. Their psychological doomsday simply failed to approach the green horizon. “The big mistake of the nationalist hopefuls may have lain in paying too much attention to those writers who predicted the end of a unionist majority as a mere means of creating a comfortable discursive environment for Sinn Fein once the party had surrendered on the question of the consent principle.”

He goes on to suggest that the rise in Unionist confidence has been visible and immediate:

“The post-census reality has produced a different response. Gone is the triumphalism of Mitchel McLaughlin. And in a rare display of unity The DUP’s Sammy Wilson and Jeffrey Donaldson of the UUP said the figures would be a ”devastating blow’ to republicans. The latter claimed; ‘a united Ireland is not even a remote possibility and it’s time for republicans to accept that’. How a couple of days works wonders for the confidence.”

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