Assembly Election

SDLP gain from Sinn Fein in Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Richie McPhillips of the SDLP celebrates being elected in Fermanagh & South Tyrone

THE SDLP struck a major coup by gaining back a seat from Sinn Fein in Fermanagh & South Tyrone.

The election of Richie McPhillips sparked chaotic scenes at the count centre in Omagh Leisure Complex as party supporters heard the news.

It meant Sinn Fein, which fielded four candidates, were left with just two seats at Stormont, won by Michelle Gildernew and Sean Lynch.

Mr McPhillips accused opponents of descending "into dirty tactics" in the weeks before the election.

"I stand here today to represent people with decency," he said.

He added: "Doesn't matter to me where they go to church on a Sunday, I'll represent them on and all because at the end of the day, I know that I got votes from across the whole community."

On the unionist side, the DUP's focus on the Foster factor paid off in Fermanagh where the party saw a major swing in support from the Ulster Unionists.

This corner of Northern Ireland has long been considered a stronghold of support for the UUP but that has dwindled in these Assembly elections.

No doubt, Arlene Foster's emergence as DUP leader, has garnered support in her home county.

She topped the poll comfortably and it wasn't long to wait before running mate Maurice Morrow also crossed the line.

Rosemary Barton will be the sole UUP MLA. In seats terms, it is a case of 'as you were' on the unionist side, but the UUP will be concerned about the voting pattern - they're down 6.5 per cent while the DUP vote is up 8.2 per cent.

Elected: Arlene Foster (DUP), Maurice Morrow (DUP), Michelle Gildernew (SF), Rosemary Barton (UUP), Sean Lynch (SF) and Richie McPhilips (SDLP)

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Assembly Election