North Antrim: Sinn Féin top the poll
SINN Féin’s electoral surge across the north carried its candidate to the top of the polls in the DUP heartland of North Antrim.
Philip McGuigan, below right, described his party’s performance as “tremendous” after he secured 7,600 votes and was the first candidate elected.
The DUP saw its once vice-like grip on the constituency slip as outgoing MLA Phillip Logan, who polled 5,708, lost out.
The UUP also managed to get the first unionist candidate across the line in the guise of Robin Swann.
Having been the last person elected in 2016, he said he was “proud and very pleased” with his performance.
His strong showing could now boost his chances if he decides to throw his hat in the ring to replace Mike Nesbitt as UUP leader.
The DUP’s Paul Frew led the charge for his party with 6,975 first preference votes, while former Stormont minister Mervyn Storey secured 6,857.
After the first count the TUV’s Jim Allister was on 6,214 votes, but when Mr Logan was eliminated on the eighth count Mr Allister was brought home without reaching the quota along with Mr Frew and Mr Storey.
Mr Frew said his personal tally was his best ever election result and the party’s vote was also up in the constituency.
However, the party’s first preference share fell by 2.4 per cent compared to last year, while the UUP’s was up 1.8 per cent and Sinn Féin’s rose by almost 3 per cent.
The TUV also suffered a fall in its share. The SDLP’s Connor Duncan outpolling Alliance’s Patricia O’Lynn with 3,519 first preferences.
Mr McGuigan’s victory also came despite turbulence amid the resignation last year of MLA Daithi McKay and several other Sinn Féin members following his suspension over allegations of ‘coaching’ at a Stormont committee.
They included former councillor Monica Digney, who stood as an independent candidate but polled just 435 votes.
Mr McGuigan described his win as “historic”.
“I am delighted, it’s a tremendous result, it’s historic in north Antrim, Sinn Féin topping the poll in what would be considered a DUP heartland,” he said.