Assembly Election

Sinn Féin's Máirtín Ó Muilleoir tops the poll in South Belfast

Sinn Féin's Máirtín Ó Muilleoir topped the poll in South Belfast
Brendan Hughes

SINN Féin's Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has received the most first preference votes in a tight election battle in South Belfast.

The former Belfast lord mayor topped the poll with 5,207 and a 14 per cent share of the vote, but fell just 40 short of being elected on the first count.

South Belfast is proving to be a toughly fought constituency for the candidates with none so far reaching the quota of 5,247 to secure any of the six seats available.

Claire Hanna of the SDLP came second with 4,516, just five votes ahead of the DUP's Emma Little Pengelly on 4,511.

The DUP's Christopher Stalford polled 3,570, followed by Clare Bailey of the Green Party on 3,521 and Alliance's Paula Bradshaw 3,332.

There could be an upset for the SDLP as the party's deputy leader Fearghal McKinney came seventh in the first preference count with 2,845 votes.

Alliance's Duncan Morrow received 2,691 and the Ulster Unionist's Rodney McCune 2,466.

Elsewhere, independent unionist Ruth Patterson received just 475 first preferences despite considerable publicity due to rivalry with the DUP's Emma Little Pengelly.

Ms Patterson was expelled from the DUP in November after criticising the leadership for appointing Ms Pengelly as both an MLA and junior minister within the space of a month.

The councillor's election campaign was managed by loyalist flag protester turned blogger Jamie Bryson.

The turnout in South Belfast was 54.25 per cent, a slight increase on the 52 per cent in 2011.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access