Assembly Election

Former education minister Peter Weir loses his Strangford seat

The DUP's Peter Weir could not hide his disappointment after losing his seat in Strangford with the end of his political career potentially on the cards.

The former education minister secured just 3,313 first preference votes.

The outlook was brighter, however, for his party colleagues with the DUP's Harry Harvey elected in Strangford receiving 4,704 first preference votes and Michelle McIlveen securing 6,601.

Also fighting for a seat in the constituency was the UUP's Mike Nesbitt, who was keen to play down speculation that he could lose his seat.

The former news presenter said he believed transfers could work in his favour, describing it "like a game of pin ball - these votes disappear in all sorts of unexpected directions, so who knows".

Meanwhile, Kellie Armstrong was not only the first candidate over the line in Strangford, but also took the accolade of becoming the first MLA elected to the Stormont Assembly.

The Alliance representative was elected at the first stage of the count with 7,015 votes and was quick to declare it was the start of a surge for her party in the Assembly elections.

"I'm absolutely delighted," she said.

"I've held back using the word 'surge' until now but I think I'm feeling it now. I'm absolutely delighted to top the poll.

"I'm not going to say a tidal wave at this moment in time because we've a long time to go yet but it's amazing and it's being shown in the vote today."

Ms Armstrong also maintained that her running mate Nick Mathison, who polled 2,822 first preference votes, is "still in the running" and would benefit from her transfers.

Fortunes were also positive for the TUV with its candidate Stephen Cooper polling well to see him potentially secure a seat in the Assembly.

With the TUV only ever having its leader Jim Allister elected to Stormont, Mr Cooper hailed a surge in support for his party.

After receiving 5,186 votes, putting him close to the quota of 6,811, he said the message is "loud and clear on the Northern Ireland protocol".

Mike Nesbitt NI Assembly Election for 2022 count at Titanic gets on the way.Picture by Hugh Russell.

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Assembly Election