DUP David Hilditch elected in East Antrim
LOUD cheers greeted the news of the election of DUP stalwart David Hilditch, the first candidate in East and South Antrim to reach the quota at the first time of asking at the Valley Leisure Centre, Newtownabbey.
Hilditch who has held his seat since 1998 comfortably beat his best ever election result, polling 2,618 more first preference votes than in 2011 and was visibly beaming when the result was announced.
Mr Hilditch was the clear poll topper, with Ulster Unionist Party candidate Roy Beggs some way behind gaining 3,848 first preference votes. Also polling well were the DUP’s Gordan Lyons (3,472 votes) and Alliance candidate Stewart Dickson who took 3,115 first preference votes.
It was almost a quickfire DUP double election as in the first count in South Antrim just 15 minutes later Paul Girvan narrowly missed out on the quota in by just six votes.
He took 5,014 first preference votes, with both party colleague Pamela Cameron (4,589) and Sinn Fein’s Declan Kearney (4,632) also looking odds on for election at this early stage.
Despite the minor disappointment there was a broad smile on Mr Girvan’s face as his family embraced him, jokingly mouthing the words ‘six votes’ to his nearest and dearest.
After the elimination of Conservative candidate David McMaster and Independent Mark Young. Girvan was then elected just a few moments ago. He surpassed his 2011 vote and once again topped the poll.
It has been a relaxed count thus far, with turnout up in both areas.
In East Antrim there has been an increase of over 3% from 47.76% in 2011 to 51.01%, while in South Antrim it has been more modest with the turnout growing from 50.06% to 51.01%.