Northern Ireland news

South Antrim: Paul Girvan grabs victory

South Antrim Paul Girvan held his seat. Pictured at the count centre in Meadowbank Sports Arena, Magherafelt. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
Connla Young

Sitting DUP MP Paul Girvan held off a strong challenge from the UUP to reclaim his seat in South Antrim.

The DUP man and his UUP counterpart Danny Kinahan were tussled for the lead as the count picked up pace at an icy Meadowbank Sports Arena in Magherafelt.

Mr Girvan ran out the eventual winner with 15,149 votes after former MP Kinahan fell short polling 12,460.

The Alliance Party's John Blair bagged 8,190 ballots, potentially costing Mr Kinahan the chance of reclaiming the seat he lost to his DUP counterpart in 2017.

The victorious DUP man suggested it was never going to be an easy ride.

“It was a campaign that was not necessarily going to be on-sided,” he said.

“Votes definitely seemed to be lent from other areas within this campaign and I think that was the message that was put forward.

The DUP man added that he ran a “clean and fair campaign and we got involved in no nonsense whatsoever along that line”.

“So I was happy with the campaign that we undertook,” he said.

“I can't say I was always happy with the campaign some of my competitors were involved in.”

He added that it was a “good day out for the party in South Antrim”.

“But I think there are lessons to be learned from this and the message we got was the lack of devolution and no assembly,” he said.

“And really because we are the biggest party we did come in for a certain amount of flack on that even though we believe and we know that the other parties were definitely not willing to come in and try and set up the assembly on occasions when we were willing to discuss issues.”

Sinn Féin once again asserted itself as the main nationalist party in the constituency with Declan Kearney taking 4,887 votes.

The senior republican said he had asked “people to support our party on the basis of a vote for Sinn Féin representing a vote for remain, a rejection of Brexit, a vote for anti sectarianism.

“A vote that recognised that the constitutional landscape of the island has changed and that this was an opportunity to positively influence constitutional change on the island in the coming period," he said.

Mr Kearney added that “most important of all perhaps it was an important vote asserting the need for a rights based restoration of the political institutions”.

Antrim and Newtownabbey SDLP councillor Roisin Lynch said she was satisfied with her tally of 2,288 votes.

“We had a very successful campaign and it was very much energetic and it bodes well for the future,” she said.

“There's great energy but we are in South Antrim and we have to be realistic but we will continue to work for the people.”

Candidates: Vote: % change since 2017

Paul Girvan (DUP) 15,149 (35.3%) -3%

Danny Kinahan (UUP) 12,460 (29%) -1.8%

John Blair (ALL) 8,190 (19.1%) +11.6%

Declan Kearney (SF) 4,887 (11.4%) -6.7%

Roisin Lynch (SDLP) 2,288 (5.3%) -0.1%

Electorate 71,711

Turnout 43,188 (59.9%) -3.3%

Majority 2,689

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