Assembly Election

West Belfast: Massive vote sees Gerry Carroll top the poll

Gerry Carroll pictured at Titanic Centre. Picture by Hugh Russell

BIG things were expected of Gerry Carroll - but few probably expected he would do as well as he did.

The People Before Profit candidate wore an expression of delight as it was confirmed he was the first to be elected in Sinn Féin's stronghold constituency.

The self-styled 'revolutionary socialist' had predicted that socialism was on the rise, and he received a massive 8,299 votes - almost one quarter - to top the poll and give him the second highest personal vote in the north.

Many people see the rise of Mr Carroll as a indication that constituents are becoming increasingly frustrated with Sinn Féin's complacency and its record in government.

Mr Carroll said he was "overwhelmed" and vowed to be a thorn in the side for all parties at Stormont.

He told his Twitter followers: "We are elected. Topped the poll by a country mile. 8,299 first preference votes. Thank you to everyone who voted for us. Overwhelmed."

The turnout in the constituency was 57.80 per cent.

Sinn Féin won five seats in the west last time, with the SDLP picking up the sixth.

Five always looked like it was going to be a stretch after Mr Carroll was elected.

It had been predicted that Sinn Féin would receive few transfers from Mr Carroll, however, Alex Maskey received just shy of 600 to help him cross the line and win a seat at the second stage.

Rosie McCorley was the furthest adrift among the five Sinn Féin candidates after the first stage, and she was the first of the five to be eliminated.

Pat Sheehan, who had been co-opted after Gerry Adams switched to the Dail and whom commentators predicted was the most vulnerable Sinn Féin member, was elected at the fourth stage.

At the first stage, the SDLP's Alex Attwood picked up 2,647, a long way off the quota of 5,182.

His party remained optimistic, however, saying he would scrap for a seat having enjoyed the lion's share of Mr Carroll's transfers. Supporters cautioned that a lot would depend on transfers from eliminated Alliance, Green and Workers Party candidates, and he picked up about 750 from those three.

The DUP's Frank McCoubrey also still had an outside chance last night having received 3,766 votes at first count and after picking up most of the transfers from the eliminated Ulster Unionist candidate.

He had 4,332 votes at the third stage but was facing a struggle to pick up significantly more with all other unionists eliminated.

This lack of transfers eventually saw the DUP man edged out by Mr Attwood, who retained his seat by the narrowest of margins.

Elected: Gerry Carroll (PBP), Alex Maskey (SF), Fra McCann (SF), Jennifer McCann (SF), Pat Sheehan (SF), Alex Attwood (SDLP).

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Assembly Election