Assembly Election

The DUP's David McIlveen could lose North Antrim seat

Stacking up the ballot papers at the Ballymena count. Picture by Cliff Donaldson.
Connla Young

DUP man David McIlveen looked set to lose his North Antrim seat last night. Mr McIlveen polled 3,209 first preference votes but DUP sources do not believe that will be enough to help him reclaim his Stormont set.

He was absent at the constituency count in Ballymena on Friday. If predictions are correct he is set to lose out party colleague Phillip Logan.

Early indications suggest little will change in the seat totals although by the fifth count last night no-one had been elected.

A DUP heartland, North Antrim has been associated with the party’s former leader Dr Ian Paisley for decades. While the Paisley name was not on the ballot paper this time around, his son Ian, who is MP for the area, was at the count centre in Ballymena to offer support.

Former Stormont finance minister Mervyn Storey failed to reach the quota but with 5,382 votes he is sure to get cross the line. He said he was confident his party will hold onto its three seats.

Mr Story defended his party’s decision to run four candidates in the area. “We believed on the basis of the general election it was best to run four candidates. “If we want to get four seats we need to do a bit more work.”

The third DUP candidate is Paul Frew who is expected to reclaim his seat having notched up 5,429 first preference votes.

Ulster Unionist Robin Swann was also being tipped to return to Stormont after registering 3,585 first preference votes. There was early drama at the North Antrim count centre in Ballymena after election chiefs ordered a recount. It came after it emerged that 10 votes were missing when the first count was completed.

Nationalist hopes of success in North Antrim were always going to rest on the shoulders of Sinn Féin’s Daithi McKay. On the first count he polled a respectable 5,297 and will be confident of holding onto the only nationalist seat in the constituency. “We are well positioned to recapture the seat for Sinn Féin in North Antrim,” he said.

“It’s a solid performance.” The SDLP’s Conor Duncan believes his party is still in with a shout after polled 3,093 first preference votes. “We are still hopeful, he said. TUV leader Jim Allister has a natural hardline support base in then constituency and polled 5,399 first preference votes which should see him home.

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Assembly Election