Northern Ireland news

Assembly stalwarts Roy Beggs and Peter Weir lose seats

Peter Weir shows his disappointment after losing his seat in Strangford. Picture by Hugh Russell 
Jonathan McCambridge, PA

For the first time since East Antrim was created as a constituency in 1983, there will nobody from the Beggs family representing the area at either Stormont or Westminster.

Ulster Unionist Roy Beggs Jr, a former Stormont deputy speaker and party stalwart, was eliminated early in the voting process for the constituency, which covers the coastal towns of Carrickfergus and Larne.

Mr Beggs had been his party's longest serving MLA, having held the seat since 1998.

The Beggs association with the area is longstanding, with Roy Beggs Sr having been the first MP when electoral boundaries were redrawn to form the constituency area in the early 1980s.

Mr Beggs polled only 3,549 first preference votes, well behind the 6,195 for his party colleague John Stewart.

Mr Beggs was eliminated on the second count and left the count centre at Ulster University in Jordanstown early.

His fortunes mirrored those of his party, which has suffered a disappointing election, gaining just over 11% of first preference votes.

He was not the only high-profile candidate to fall, with former education minister Peter Weir being eliminated in Strangford.

Mr Weir had been an MLA since 1998 when the Assembly was first created following the Good Friday Agreement.

The DUP previously held three seats in the constituency and was always likely to struggle to hold them all, with Mr Weir the casualty.

With counting continuing late on Friday, the possibility remained that other high-profile politicians could potentially lose their seats, with UUP leader Doug Beattie in Upper Bann, SDLP deputy leader Nichola Mallon in north Belfast and Green Party NI leader Clare Bailey all under pressure.

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Northern Ireland news