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Change at the top in safe unionist seat

UUP Danny Kinahan who took the South Antrim Westminster seat

THE Ulster Unionist's Danny Kinahan taking the South Antrim seat from DUP stalwart William McCrea was one of the shock results in an otherwise predictable election.

Mr Kinahan, who was standing for Westminster for the first time, received 11,942 votes, 949 more than the outgoing MP.

The Free Presbyterian minister had held the seat since 2005 after defeating the UUP's David Burnside in a constituency where the two unionist parties have always done battle.

South Antrim didn't even come under the radar as a potential 'pact' seat with the DUP smugly believing that McCrea's high profile would see them through for another term.

Kinahan, a former army officer is one of only two unionists to express support for Equal Marriage bill tabled by Sinn Féin recently.

That could have helped him pick up the floating moderate unionist vote who may have grown weary of Mr McCrea's firebrand politics.

The shock result ruled out any chance of the DUP increasing the number of MPs returned to Westminster.

However, as Peter Robinson attempts to modernise his party the departure of Mr McCrea, who was a committed Paisleyite, might be seen as an acceptable level of collateral damage.

Tactically freeing the party of the old school fundamentalists will in the long term help secure Robinson's leadership from any potential challenges.

Despite the crush blow McCrea was magnanimous in defeat saying: "It has been my honour and privilege to serve the people of South Antrim for the past ten years. As I pass the mantle to Danny, I leave with dignity, with integrity and with great pride."

Sinn Féin's Declan Kearney also failed to increase the party's vote dropping by 1% on the 2010 result and polling just 4,699 votes while the SDLP also dropped its share of the vote by half a per cent.

Alliance's Neil Kelly managed to increase his vote by 2.1% but was still a minor player in what was always a unionist dominated seat.

Name Party Votes % +/-

Danny Kinahan UUP 11,942 32.7 +2.3

William McCrea DUP 10,993 30.1 -3.8

Declan Kearney SF 4,699 12.9 -1.0

Neil Kelly Alliance 3,576 9.8 +2.1

Roisin Lynch SDLP 2,990 8.2 -0.5

Richard Cairns TUV 1,908 5.2 -0.2

Alan Dunlop Con 415 1.1 n/a

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