Fermanagh South Tyrone: DUP lose out in Foster's home constituency
The local fallout from the renewable heat scandal manifested itself in a loss of a DUP seat in Arlene Foster’s home constituency.
Amidst the jubilation of the former first minister topping the poll, the party lost chairman Maurice Morrow in a dramatic night at Omagh Leisure Centre.
The former communities minister lost a seat he had held since devolution began in 1998, with a lack of transfers counting against the 68-year-old on this occasion.
“Nothing stays the same forever, change comes and change happens, now I’m on the receiving end of that change,” he said.
Speaking after her colleague’s defeat the DUP leader said her position was not in question.
“I will be continuing as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, we have a job to do and I think if you’d seen from the scenes tonight in Omagh that it will be a challenging job, but I don’t shirk my responsibility,” Mrs Foster said.
She wanted to get devolution back up and running as quickly as possible and was up for the challenge ahead in negotiations.
“The people have spoken and we have to listen very carefully to what they have said and as far as I’m concerned they want to see devolution back and running in Northern Ireland, they don’t want direct rule, they know that devolution is a stabilising force in Northern Ireland and that’s where my focus is certainly at the moment.”
For Sinn Féin it was another triumph as they regained the seat lost to the SDLP’s Richie McPhilips last May. Newcomer Jemma Dolan was elected alongside former agriculture minister Michelle Gildernew and Sean Lynch.
The party, who increased their first preference vote by 3,000 said the victory was largely down to a mobilised nationalist vote driven by “anger” at the behaviour of the DUP.
Joining the two biggest parties at Stormont is the UUP’s Rosemary Barton, who in an ironic twist, would benefit from SDLP transfers to push her over the line.
“Yes indeed it is weird for me that the SDLP transfers helped me as I said before to vote down the unionist family, however I must say I also helped the SDLP get elected last May.
“They have repaid the favour this time,” she said.