General Election

Mid Ulster: Comfortable win for Sinn Féin's Francie Molloy

Sinn Fein's Francie Molloy has comfortably retained his seat in Mid Ulster with 45.9% of the vote.

It is a seat the party has held for 22 years, with former deputy first minister Martin McGuinness the MP from 1997 until 2013 when he was replaced by Mr Molloy in a by-election.

With 20,473 votes polled, Mr Molloy's share is down slightly since the 2017 election when he won 54.5% of the vote.

He said: "This was a Brexit election. Brexit has wrecked the entire political process and it is going to wreck the union as well. The one certainty for us to return to the European Union is Irish unity. That's the open door we have to Europe and I would hope to continue that as soon as possible."

As in the 2017 election, Molloy's nearest rival was the DUP's Keith Buchanan, whose vote decreased to 10,936.

Mel Boyle of the Alliance Party increased the party's share from 2.3% to 7.9%, while the SDLP's Denise Johnston increased her party share by 4.5%.

The constituency, which takes in parts of Tyrone and Derry, has tactical and symbolic significance for republicans and Mr Molloy will be satisfied with his return of 20,473 votes.

His victory marked the fourth time Mr Molloy has challenged for and won the seat.

“It's a great result for Mid Ulster and I am happy to represent Mid Ulster again as MP and I will continue to provide that community service,” he said.

As in 2017 his nearest rival was the DUP's Keith Buchanan who returned 10,936 votes to take second place.

Mr Buchanan, who is an MLA, has emerged as his party's leading figure in the constituency in recent years.

“I am happy and it's a good election in Mid Ulster for us as a party,” he said.

Yet again the SDLP has had to settle for third place in Mid Ulster when their candidate Denise Johnston claimed 6,384 votes – almost 2,000 more than 4,563 votes polled by the party in 2017.

Ms Johnston said she was happy with the support she received.

“I am absolutely delight to get the vote out,” she said.

“We are up 30 percent on our vote.

“It shows people are starting to reject sectarian politics and polarised politics.”

Ms Johnston narrowly missed out on a seat in May's local council elections and her party will hope the decision to run this time out will help boost her profile ahead of any future election.

Tyrone man Conor Rafferty appeared on the ballot as an independent although his election material carried the logo of the anti-EU Irish Freedom Party.

He also canvassed on a pro-life platform and secured 690 votes.

The Alliance Party’s Mel Boyle continued the surge towards his party by polling 3,526 votes – a significant increase on the 1,094 bagged by Alliance two years ago.

UUP candidate Neil Richardson took 2,611 votes to cap off a disappointing performance for his party.

CANDIDATE VOTE          % CHANGE SINCE 2017

Francie Molloy (SF)                20,473 (45.9%) -8.6%

Keith Buchanan (DUP)          10,936 (24.5%) -2.4%

Denise Johnston (SDLP)      6,384 (14.3%) +4.5%

Mel Boyle (ALL)                    3,526 ( 7.9%) +5.6%

Neil Richardson (UUP)       2,611 ( 5.9%) -0.6%

Conor Rafferty (Ind)              690 ( 1.5%) +1.5%

Electorate: 70,449

Turnout: 63.3%

Majority:9,537

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General Election