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Euphoric SDLP celebrate Durkan victory in Derry

07/05/2015: Mark Durkan following his election win with wife Jacqui at the Foyle general election count, held at Templemore, Derry. Picture Margaret McLaughlin.
Seamus McKinney

There was absolute euphoria among SDLP supporters in Derry as Mark Durkan was declared winner at the count in Foyle.

The fight was firmly one between Sinn Féin and the SDLP for the most prized seat in the nationalist north.

Once the majority party on Derry city council, the SDLP saw much of its influence diluted with the creation of the Derry and Strabane super council last year.

But that all was forgotten for a short time when former leader Durkan gave Sinn Fein a metaphorical bloody nose.

The turn-out was down by more than 4% on 2010. Despite that, Durkan's share of the vote jumped 3.2% to leave him with a 6,000 majority. There was unrestrained joy from the SDLP faithful.

The newly-returned MP was measured in his response. However, he could not hide his happiness.

“Sinn Fein made the mistake last year of saying – on the basis of calculations around the council result – that Derry was now a Sinn Fein city. In fact, it clearly isn't and what's what tonight's results showed.”

Gracious in defeat, Gearóid Ó hEára congratulated his opponent on his victory and said he was pleased that the party vote had held up in Derry.

Among the other runners, it was very much a case of as-you-were, although Alliance was happy with a slight increase.

Away from results, security at the Templemore sports complex was once again a talking point.

Following a bomb attack on the count in 2010, Derry has been a focus of heavy security at election time.

At yesterday's count, things reached a new level when security staff body-searched both Mark Durkan and the East Derry winner, Gregory Campbell. They took it a step further then by searching fellow security staff.

On a quirkier note, the top prize for the best spoiled vote must go to the person who took time to offer a perfect pencil-sketch of 1916 leaders James Connolly and Patrick Pearse, according to party workers.

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Name Party Votes % +/-

Mark Durkan SDLP 17,725 47.9 +3.2

Gearóid Ó hEára SF 11,679 31.6 -0.4

Gary Middleton DUP 4,573 12.4 +0.5

Julia Kee UUP 1,226 3.3 +0.1

David Hawthorne Alliance 835 2.3 +1.7

Kyle Thompson UKIP 832 2.2 +2.2

Hamish Badenoch Con 132 0.4 +0.4

Majority: 6,046 Turnout: 52.8%

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