Paul Givan secures first seat in Lagan Valley amid fears his party will lose a seat
THE DUP strike force was out in action in Lagan Valley last night as the party hoped to replicate their impressive performance in this constituency.
The party were in play for four of the six seats on offer, but there is the possibility that the UUP will take a second seat in this unionist battlefield.
The DUP took a 47.2 per cent share of the vote with Paul Givan topping the poll with 5,364 votes, just shy of the 5,551 quota.
But it wasn't until the sixth count when he finally secured his seat to the loud cheers and singing from supporters.
Edwin Poots, who was first over the line in the 2011 assembly election, polled 4,638 first preference votes amid reports that he was unhappy he had not been vote-managed from the top spot.
His DUP party colleagues Brenda Hale polled very well also with 4,236 votes and Jonathan Craig securing 4,087. But there are fears that the party may lose their fourth seat.
The UUP was targetting two seats, with DUP recruit Jenny Palmer joining Lisburn councillor Robbie Butler.
Mr Butler polled well and secured 4,376 first preference votes, while Ms Palmer who was welcomed into the UUP fold in September after leaving the DUP, polled 3,871 with a punch of the air as her votes were read aloud.
Her former party had moved to discipline her following controversy over an alleged attempt by a Stormont adviser to change the way she intended to vote at a Housing Executive board meeting.
But the UUP candidates were being made to wait last night with Trevor Lunn of Alliance sneaking past them and securing the second seat in Lagan Valley.
Popular SDLP candidate Pat Catney, a former publican, secured 2,899 votes. He is likely to attract more second preference votes from unionists and Alliance voters in this constituency than his republican rival Jacqui McGeogh.