Assembly Election

East Belfast: Alliance's Naomi Long re-elected after topping the poll

Alliance leader Naomi Long celebrates after being re-elected to East Belfast
Brendan Hughes

ALLIANCE leader Naomi Long has been re-elected to Stormont after topping the poll in East Belfast.

The former MP notched up 7,610 first-preference votes – almost 1,000 above the quota of 6,727 and over 2,000 more than she received last year.

Reflecting the trend seen across Northern Ireland, East Belfast had an increased voter turnout of 63.02 per cent compared to 57.23 per cent last year.

Mrs Long's vote was also boosted by the party running two candidates this time instead of last year's three.

Joanne Bunting – one of three DUP candidates seeking election – came second with 6,007 first preferences.

Her running mates Robin Newton and David Douglas achieved 4,729 and 4,431 first-preference votes respectively.

But the pair were out-polled by Ulster Unionist candidate Andy Allen receiving 5,275 and Alliance's Chris Lyttle 5,059.

The focus of the battle in East Belfast has been whether the DUP can retain three MLAs despite the number of constituency seats being cut from six to five – and if they do, who loses out.

The PUP's John Kyle nabbed 2,658 votes followed by the Green Party's Georgina Milne with 1,447 and Sinn Féin's Mairéad O'Donnell with 1,173.

The TUV's Andrew Girvan polled 917, Cross-Community Labour Alternative's Courtney Robinson 442, the Conservative Party's Sheila Bodel 275 and the SDLP's Séamas de Faoite 250.

Independent candidate Jordy McKeag – an 18-year-old former Orange bandsman who had pledged to gamble his MLA salary on a 1000/1 accumulator to pay off the RHI overspend – received 84 first-preference votes.

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