Northern Ireland

Lagan Valley result sees Alliance’s Sorcha Eastwood make history in traditional unionist stronghold

Alliance overturn the DUP’s 6,499 majority to take the seat for the first non-unionist party

Alliance's Sorcha Eastwood celebrates with Eoin Tenneyson MLA (right) and David Honeyford MLA for Lagan Valley, at the South Lake Leisure Centre in Craigavon, Co Armagh, after winning the Lagan Valley constituency (Oliver McVeigh/Oliver McVeigh/PA Wire)

The Alliance Party has made history in Lagan Valley with Sorcha Eastwood elected as the constituency’s first ever woman and first non-unionist MP.

The party managed a swing of just under 9,500 votes to overturn the DUP majority and finish 2,959 votes clear of Jonathan Buckley.

Against the backdrop of the serious allegations against former DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, who had held the Lagan Valley seat since 1997, the DUP vote was down on 2019, with UUP candidate Robbie Butler benefiting from an upswing in his party’s vote.

It was an emotional moment for the new MP Sorcha Eastwood as she broke the news of her victory in a phone call to her husband Dale Shirlow, who is undergoing treatment for a rare form of blood cancer.

“This means so much to me,” she said afterwards.

“I’ve spent my whole life growing up in Lagan Valley, and if you ever said that I would be here standing as your MP, I wouldn’t have believed you.”

Describing Lagan Valley as “a positive, progressive and vibrant constituency”, she added: “Let this be the start of a new dawn in Lagan Valley.

“Let this be the start of a new chapter that we can all write together as a united community.”

In his concession speech, Jonathan Buckley, called for unionism to “deal with its internal divisions”.

He said: “We must spend less time throwing rocks at each other, and looking to the broad picture of unionism.”

While the DUP vote fell by just under 4,000 votes, Robbie Butler’s 11,157 votes represented a 2,551 increase on the UUP’s 2019 performance.

The TUV also took 2,186 votes, which was down on the party’s performance in the Assembly election in 2022, but appeared to come at the DUP’s expense.

TUV sources said many of the voters who backed the party in 2022 had opted to vote tactically for the DUP this time.

Jonathan Buckley speaks after the DUP lost the Lagan Valley seat at the South Lake Leisure Centre in Craigavon. Picture by Oliver McVeigh/PA Wire (Oliver McVeigh/Oliver McVeigh/PA Wire)

Although he did not mention his former party leader by name, the DUP candidate spoke of the difficult backdrop to his campaign.

“I have felt some very, very difficult moments in this campaign, some very personal attacks on not only me, but on my family,” he said.


Sorcha Eastwood (Alliance) – 18,618

Jonathan Buckley (DUP) – 15,659

Robbie Butler (UUP) – 11,157

Lorna Smyth (TUV) – 2,186

Si Lee (SDLP) – 1,028

Patricia Denvir (Green Party) - 433