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Bookies' favourite Lady Sylvia Hermon retains seat

Lady Sylvia Hermon with Fr Andrew Black and Bishop Noel Treanor at an ordination just days before her victory
Seanín Graham

THERE were no surprises in the affluent North Down constituency with Independent unionist Lady Sylvia Hermon easily holding onto her Westminster seat.

Four days before polling day, the electoral pull of former chief constable Sir John Hermon's widow was all too apparent when she attended the ordination of a Catholic priest in Holywood - and was besieged by well-heeled wellwishers at the church doors.

The newly ordained Fr Andrew Black told the sitting MP to "keep up the good work" while mobile-phone cameras went into overdrive when Down and Conor bishop, Noel Treanor, warmly shook her hand.

Claiming 17,689 votes, Lady Hermons's main competition came from the DUP's Alex Easton and Andrew Muir of the Alliance party.

While the bookies had her as the clear favourite, the DUP's surprise decision to run against her, after leaving the way free in 2010, did see her majority drop.

The Ulster Unionist party backed the and withdrew its candidate, with party leader Mike Nesbitt claiming she remained an "Ulster unionist in spirit".

In 2010 she quit the UUP over its pact with the Conservatives in the last general election. She was re-elected two months after her resignation as an independent with an increased majority.

Meanwhile, Alliance saw its fortunes improve on election night with a candidate who was at the centre of the campaign's major talking point - the 'gay cake' row. The cake was intended as a gift for Andrew Muir, Northern Ireland's first openly gay mayor.

Speaking after her Westminster victory, Lady Hermon admitted that she had toyed with the idea of running for an Assembly seat next year - but has since ruled this out.

"I'm thinking about the composition of the House of Commons which is very different…in the long-term we are going to look at some sort of constitutional reform which would interest me even more," she said.

Name Party Votes % +/-

Lady Sylvia Hermon Ind 17,689 49.2% -14%

Alex Easton DUP 8,487 23.6% n/a

Andrew Muir Alliance 3,086 8.6% 3%

Steven Agnew Green 1,958 5.4% +2.3%

Mark Brotherston Con 1,593 4.4% -15.9%

Jonny Lavery UKIP 1,482 4.1% n/a

William Cudworth TUV 686 1.9% -3%

Tom Woolley SDLP 355 1% -1%

Glenn Donnelly Cista 338 0.9% n/a

Therese McCartney SF 273 0.8% +0.01%

Majority: 9,202 Turnout: 56%

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