Lagan Valley: Unionist transfers set up SDLP win for retired businessman
Retired businessman Pat Catney turned the SDLP’s election from failure to success by taking the last seat in Lagan Valley.
It was predominately transfers from the Ulster Unionist which saw the former publican take the seat away from the DUP in a surprise result.
It meant the SDLP returned to a smaller assembly with the same number of seats as it left with and also left the DUP just one seat ahead of Sinn Féin.
The former owner of the Kitchen Bar in Belfast, who entered politics in 2011 as a Lisburn city councillor, said the time had come to “put our shoulders to the wheel” in a bid to make progress.
The DUP was left with two seats –halving its standing in the constituency in 10 months.
Mr Catney’s victory came at the cost of the DUP’s Brenda Hale, who had held her seat since 2011.
Despite losing a seat, the DUP did have something to celebrate as Paul Givan once again topped the poll.
Despite facing controversy in recent weeks over the Irish language bursary, Mr Givan secured 8,035 votes and was elected on the first count.
He said he was “personally very pleased to have got the endorsement once again from the constituency and the people of Lagan Valley.”
There was also a bittersweet victory for UUP candidate and former firefighter Robbie Butler.
His success came after running mate, Jenny Palmer, was eliminated at the sixth stage meaning the party lost a seat.
Ms Palmer fought her debut election for the UUP last May after leaving the DUP following the Red Sky controversy.
The Alliance Party’s Trevor Lunn was also elected on the seventh count.
The long-standing MLA, who has held his seat for 10 years, saw his number of first preference votes rise from 3,707 to 6,105.
Mr Lunn said the party was “looking forward to getting back to Stormont to continue working on behalf of the people of Northern Ireland”.
“We need to, all the parties, approach the problem with an open mind and be prepared to make concessions”.
The DUP’s Edwin Poots and Mr Catney were both elected on the eighth count.