Assembly Election

DUP warn North Down MP Lady Sylvia Hermon that she is ‘being put on notice'

Lady Sylvia Hermon has been the MP for North Down for 15 years. Picture by Cliff Donaldson
John Monaghan

THE DUP fired a warning shot across the bows of North Down MP Lady Sylvia Hermon by stating that she was "being put on notice" after retaining its three seats in the constituency.

DUP MLA Gordon Dunne made the remark in his winning speech at the end of the count, in what was one of the slowest of the 18 elections.

Mr Dunne said: "Some people had us written off...but the three musketeers have been returned.

"We are serving notice here today on the Member of Parliament for North is only a matter of time."

Ms Hermon has represented the constituency in Westminster for 15 years, retained the seat comfortably as an independent last year securing a majority of more than 9,000 over the DUP's Alex Easton.

Indeed, the combined first preference total for all three DUP candidates here was just over 13,000, still 4,000 behind Lady Sylvia's vote in 2015.

The Minister of Employment and Learning, Alliance's Stephen Farry, told The Irish News: "I don't think putting Lady Sylvia on notice is an appropriate thing to say."

Despite not reaching the quota and failing to get a second seat with Andrew Muir, Mr Farry, who secured the final seat, maintained the election had been a successful one for Alliance.

He said: "We weren’t concerned once we saw the first preference votes here in North Down. We have retained 8 MLAs overall and none of them were in any danger."

Mr Farry also predicted that turnout - just under 50% - would be higher for the EU referendum next month.

It was a hugely successful day for Green Party leader Mr Agnew, who doubled his share of the vote from 2011.

Mr Agnew polled 4,109 first preference votes, but limped slowly towards the quota of 4,605 throughout Friday, finally being confirmed as an MLA on Saturday.

Mr Agnew said: "Depending on the issue I will work with other MLAs. For example, myself and Jim Allister couldn't be further apart politically but we have worked together on certain issues. The DUP made sure a formal opposition wasn't possible.

"There is an argument that one of the consequences of peace has been people are more switched off to politics, but we certainly can't say that we are satisfied with this turnout."

The DUP’s vote management strategy worked to perfection, with all three of its MLAs – Gordon Dunne, Alex Easton and Peter Weir – re-elected.

Mr Easton’s considerable personal popularity was reflected in 6,357 first preference votes and he was elected on the first count.

The SDLP and Sinn Féin both secured a combined total of less than four figures, in a constituency which has never elected a nationalist MLA.

Unionist transfers helped the UUP’s Alan Chambers across the line, although the party missed out on a second seat.

Assembly Election

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