Sinn Féin hold seat as UUP double vote

Sinn Féin's Mickey Brady gives his victory speech after being elected as MP for Newry and Armagh. Pic credit: Pacemaker
John Monaghan

AS expected, Sinn Féin held on to this constituency with a comfortable majority, as Mickey Brady saw off the challenge of All-Ireland winning footballer Justin McNulty with more than 8,000 votes to spare.

However, the most interesting show of the night came from Danny Kennedy, who almost doubled the Ulster Unionist vote, which jumped from 8,558 to 16,312.

Even accounting for the fact that Mr Kennedy was an agreed unionist candidate – unlike in 2010 when the DUP stood William Irwin, who polled 5,764, and Willie Frazer contested as an independent – the regional development minister increased his vote significantly.

Mr Kennedy said: "I do regret that the voice of Newry and Armagh will continue not to be heard where it should be heard, in the House of Commons, but the Ulster Unionist Party is not only in very firm business in Newry and Armagh, it is also back in business in the House of Commons."

Indeed, his strong performance relegated the SDLP to 3rd place in a constituency previously dominated by Seamus Mallon for almost two decades.

Although Justin McNulty added 2,000 votes and 0.7% to the SDLP share at the last election, the former Armagh player did not convert his high profile locally into a serious resurrection of the party's fortunes.

In fact, McNulty's tally of 12,026 fell slightly below Dominic Bradley's display of 10 years ago, when he registered 12,770 votes.

It is a far cry from the days when a 20,000-plus vote for deputy leader Seamus Mallon was the safest bet of any election contest in the north.

For Sinn Féin, the party has not looked back since Conor Murphy took the seat from the SDLP in the breakthrough election of 2005 with an 8,000 majority.

Although Mr Murphy stood down at this election, assembly member Mickey Brady retained his vote, polling 20,488 and almost matching his 40% share.

Mr Brady even added more than 1,500 votes to his colleague's 2010 total.

He said: “We will carry on our policies of anti-austerity and equality and ensure all the parties unite to stand against austerity and ensure that we in the north get the best possible deal from Westminster.

"People have this myth that we as Sinn Fein members do not go to Westminster; we don't take our seats but we certainly do the work."

The remaining two candidates in the constituency both lagged well behind the front three.

Alliance's Kate Nicholl polled 841 votes, marginally increasing her party's share since 2010, while Robert Rigby, the Conservative candidate who was supported by loyalist campaigner Willie Frazer, registered just 210.


Name Party Vote % +/-

Mickey Brady SF 20,488 41.1 -0.9

Danny Kennedy UUP 16,312 32.7 +13.6

Justin McNulty SDLP 12,026 24.1 +0.7

Kate Nicholl Alliance 841 1.7 +0.5

Robert Rigby Conservative 210 0.4 -18.6

Majority: 4,176 Turnout: 64.3%


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