Donaldson romps home in Lagan Valley
HIS victory was never in doubt, but not only did the DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson hold one of the 'safest' seats out of all Northern Ireland's 18 constituencies, he also managed to increase his party's majority in Lagan Valley by more than 2,500 votes.
It was the first result of the night, with the high profile sitting MP returned for his fifth term in Parliament with 19,055 votes - a 13,000 lead against his nearest rival, inaugural deputy mayor of the new Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council, Alexander Redpath, who polled 6,055 votes for the Ulster Unionist Party.
In a long political career including 18 years as an MP, Donaldson was still on the streets canvassing until the last moment, raising local issues such as the establishment of a minor injuries unit at Lagan Valley Hospital and promising support for more pre-school places across Lisburn, as well as continuing the fight for the controversially stalled John Lewis development at Sprucefield.
But the newly returned MP also attributed his runaway success to a "very strong team" who had gone out to "fight for every single vote".
"Here in Lagan Valley, we have increased our vote and increased our majority with a resounding mandate from the people of this constituency," he said. "We are so successful here because we don't take people for granted. We work hard as a team and we care about what happens to the ordinary people that we represent."
Mr Donaldson, who replaced his former party's (UUP) leader James Molyneaux in 1997, enjoyed a 10,000 majority in the last election in 2010, but this time faced competition from eight rivals, including Alliance's Trevor Lunn, a former Lisburn mayor who took over the Lagan Valley candidacy from long-time representative, Seamus Close.
His main challenge in 2010 came from Daphne Trimble who was representing the disastrous Ulster Unionists-Tory link-up, UCUNF (Ulster Conservatives and Unionists – New Force), but he still won by more than 10,000 votes.
Other gains last night came for Alliance with Trevor Lunn increasing his party's share of the vote by an unexpected 32 per cent, polling 5,544 votes - just 511 behind the UUP.
Name Party Vote % +/-
Jeffrey Donaldson DUP 19,055 47.9 -1.9
Alexander Redpath UUP 6,055 15.2 n/a
Trevor Lunn Alliance 5,544 13.9 +2.5
Pat Catney....................................................SDLP...............................................2,500 6.3 +1.3
Alan Love UKIP 2,200 5.5 +5.5
Samuel Morrison TUV 1,887 4.7 -3.9
Jacqui McGeogh SF 1,144 2.9 -1.1
Jonny Orr Ind 756 1.9 +1.9
Helen Osborne Con 654 1.6 n/a
Majority: 13,000 Turnout: 55.9 per cent