Political news

Sinn Féin's Cathal Ó hOisín vulnerable in East Derry

East Derry SDLP candidate Gerry Mullan waiting for early results alongside outgoing MLA John Dallat. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin 
Seamus McKinney

THE impact of veteran SDLP assembly member, John Dallat’s retirement was acutely felt by the party in East Derry.

The SDLP share of the vote fell from 14.9% to 9.5% on first preferences although new candidate, Limavady councillor, Gerry Mullan is expected to hold the seat.

Today’s first count has also thrown up a surprise for Sinn Fein as sitting assembly member, Cathal Ó hOisín looks vulnerable against the party’s second candidate, Caoimhe Archibald.

Archibald won 4,002 first preferences against Ó hOisín’s 3,493. While the Dungiven man’s first preference showing would not cause concern in other constituencies, in one dominated by unionists, it’s difficult to see where he can win the required transfers to keep his seat.

Former mayor of Coleraine, Maurice Bradley topped the poll for the DUP. The party looks to be on course to retain its three east Derry seats despite the decision by DUP heavyweight, Gregory Campbell not to run but to focus on Westminster. It’s expected that George Robinson and Adrian McQuillan will both hold their seats.

Independent unionist, Claire Sugden is polling well and looks capable of holding the seat won by the late David McClarty. Sugden, who ran McClarty’s office, replaced him following his untimely death two years ago.

That being the case, it’s looking increasingly like it’s “as-you-were” in East Derry in party terms albeit with a change of names.

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