Despite the goings on in East Belfast the election results have seen the DUP claw back voters. The 2009 Euro elections saw the DUP achieve 88,346 first preference votes (18.2%) whilst the election to Westminster has seen the percentage go up to 25% of the vote (168,216). Now this is still down 8.7% on the previous Westminster election but in overall terms considering the recent DUP `annus horribilis` I would think the DUP should be pretty happy with the result. Even in East Belfast Peter Robinson scored a hefty 32.8% of the vote (Gregory Campbell was elected on 34.6% in East Londonderry, William McCrea was elected on 33.9%).
There are problems with the way the Institutions work and hopefully they will be looked at and reviewed long before the 2015 date set in St Andrews. But the one thing that seems clear from the results is that people have responded to the positive message and vision the DUP put forward for Northern Ireland. People want to see bread and butter issues dealt with, they want to live in peace, they want jobs, better hospitals, better schools for their kids.
The other thing that strikes me immediately is the conciliatory & muted tone amongst Unionists. There has not been much crowing or jeering on anyone`s part, be it DUP, UUP/Tory or TUV. The feeling on the ground seems to be that Unionist Unity talks are the way forward.