Assembly Election

Coffee helps as East Antrim count continues

Times are tough at Valley Leisure Centre with queues for coffee
Paul Ainsworth

ELECTION pressure was getting to more than just candidates in the Valley Leisure Centre, as a visible spat between staff occurred in front of caffeine-craving press and politicians queuing for coffee.

Forgivable, of course, as the order of the day was tension and uncertainty, with nervous looking candidates shuffling about from cafe to count floor, phones glued to ears, as ballots were thumbed vigorously – each flip of a paper potentially bringing them closer to or further from employment in a squeezed Assembly that will have shed its fair share of dead wood by Sunday.

That aforementioned coffee queue rarely let up, as the media were confined to the balcony level where it’s situated, banned from tinkering within the engine of democracy humming on the main hall below.

A veritable pit of politics in action, where getting a quote from a candidate meant waving and hoping to catch their eye – while resisting the urge to throw a pen - and lure them upstairs if they hadn’t already paid a visit for a creamy latte, or for the more worried candidates – a triple espresso.

As the afternoon rolled on, predictability began to creep in for the East Antrim constituency. The SDLP’s Margaret Anne McKillop endured her second election pummelling in a year, getting the boot with less total votes than even UKIP, whose candidate Noel Jordan gained his independence from the count at the fourth stage.

The big hitters, however, began to turn their subdued shuffles into struts as the stages rolled by and their certainty of a Stormont seat emerged from the gloaming like a ghost ship on a foggy night at sea.

If that sounds ominous – it should! It was clear that despite displaying confidence for the cameras, candidates knew a period of frightening uncertainty lies ahead, particularly if rumours wisping in from other counts about a sea-change in the political ocean are to be believed.

 

Assembly Election

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