Local Election 2019

Aontú takes first seat but has not seriously dented Sinn Féin

Anne McCloskey of Aontú with party leader Peadar Toibín on Friday. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

AONTÚ has so far done little dent the strength of Sinn Féin, according to early indications.

The all-Ireland republican and anti-abortion party, which was set up just months ago, had hoped to take several seats from its closest rival.

It secured one in Derry last night but that success was not expected to be repeated elsewhere.

GP Anne McCloskey clinched a seat in the Ballyarnett area of the city, having out-polled Sinn Féin by more than 100 votes and gained the third-highest first preference total behind two SDLP candidates.

Full council results

Sensing victory, party leader Peadar Tóibín, a TD based in Meath, arrived at the count centre in Foyle arena early yesterday evening.

Mr Tóibín left Sinn Féin after claiming he had been ostracised because of his opposition to abortion.

Several high-profile former Sinn Féin members, including Francie and Anne Brolly, joined the party.

The Brollys' son Proinnsias replaced his mother on a ticket after she was forced to withdraw because she took a severance package after retiring from politics in 2014.

However, he looked unlikely to be elected.

He gained 655 first preference votes in the Benbradagh ward in Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council - well under half the 1,574 polled by Sinn Féin's Sean McGlinchey.

Former Sinn Féin MLA Francie Brolly made a bid to be elected for the Limavady area of the same council.

Although votes in the ward had yet to be counted last night, it is understood the 72-year-old had not polled as well as he might have hoped.

It was the same picture in the Carntogher area of Mid Ulster where Irish language activist Pádraigin Ui Raifeartaigh was a candidate.

Her electoral bid failed after she recorded just 632 first preference votes.

Nichola McClean got 670 first preferences in the Collin area of Belfast and Macartán Digney took 475 first preference votes in Downpatrick, Co Down.

Mr Tóibín praised his party's showing and said it would build on its success.

"We have put down foundation votes across the north," he said.

Full council results

Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín at the election count in Derry. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

"We're going to build and consolidate to become a force in politics".

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Local Election 2019

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