North Belfast: Big name losses in north Belfast as McCausland marches out
North Belfast was a microcosm of the changing face of Northern Ireland politics, returning a majority of nationalists for the first time.
Former DUP minister, Nelson McCausland lost his seat, leaving the five-seater with two Sinn Féin, two DUP and one SDLP representative.
Mr McCausland, pictured, an outspoken Orangeman, was a victim of the single transferable vote system. Despite attempts to manage the party’s vote, he failed to pick up enough transfers to keep him in the race. He left the Titanic Exhibition Centre telling reporters he felt relaxed about the situation, although his face told a different story.
A Sinn Féin supporter, dressed in a crocodile outfit, the uniform of the 2017 election, followed behind as he made his way to the doors of the count centre.
Party colleagues William Humphrey and Paula Bradley were elected with relative ease. Ms Bradley made an easy quota with 8,458 votes by the third count, courtesy of Mr McCausland’s demise.
William Humphrey, who remains popular with working class voters in north Belfast, also made the quota with his colleague’s surplus.
Sinn Féin’s Carál Ní Chuilín and Gerry Kelly were elected with ease on transfers, the latter topping the poll with 6,275 votes on the first count.
While one of the last constituencies to be called in Belfast’s count centre, even the protracted tally process couldn’t dampen Sinn Féin’s spirits, with this their best election result since the restoration of devolution ten years ago.
The SDLP’s Nichola Mallon has come into her own in opposition and her visible presence on the ground and relentless canvassing, despite being heavily pregnant, paid off.
Having struggled to fill the sixth seat in the 2016 poll, she was easily elected this time out with 6,692 votes by the sixth count.
North Belfast was also an example of opposition parties transferring to each other.The UUP transferred to Alliance and Alliance to the SDLP which helped the former mayor of Belfast enormously.