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Derry and Strabane: Detox centre campaigner wins seat on single issue

By Donna Deeney

A campaign for a detox centre in Londonderry secured an election victory in Derry and Strabane for the uncle of Andrew Quigley, whose body was recovered from the River Foyle earlier this year.

Dermot Quigley, standing as an independent, won his seat comfortably with 1,037 first preference votes, just shy of the 1,099 quota, which he secured with the help of transfers from the other candidates in the Ballyarnett ward.

His campaign centred on a call for a detoxification centre for Derry and his strong performance in this election is evidence of the depth of agreement among the electorate for a facility like this in the city.

Mr Quigley thanked the people of Derry and said he was "humbled" by the support.

"My election is a vote for the ordinary people of Derry and indication that they are fed up with party politics," he said.

"My campaign won support from people from every area of Derry and not just in the Ballyarnet ward, which has made me resolute to fight all the harder for the proper facilities that are so desperately needed in this city."

Mr Quigley's victory was at the expense of Jimmy Carr, the SDLP councillor who lost the support of his party two days before the electorate went to the polls.

Mr Carr was the only candidate who failed to show at Templemore Sports Complex, where the count was being held.

Two recounts of the Sperrin ward threw all plans to the wall of having three of the seven wards in Derry and Strabane declared by 11pm.

Deputy returning officer Sharon O'Connor asked for patience when a discrepancy in the number of votes tallied was spotted after the first count, forcing the two recounts.

Counting of the votes cast in Sperrin was halted shortly before 10pm with not a single candidate declared.

Ms O'Connor apologised and said: "We would like to get it right, rather than be fast."

A total of 74 candidates fought for 40 seats across seven wards, but while it had been hoped that the seven seats available in the Waterside and Sperrin wards and the six Ballyarnett seats would have been declared last night, this was not to be.

In the end only Ballyarnett ward was completed and those duly elected were Sandra Duffy, Tony Hassan and Elisha McCallion for Sinn Fein, Angela Dobbins and Brian Teirney for SDLP, and Mr Quigley. There was an awful lot of standing around not doing not very much interspersed with short flurries of activity.

And as the hours ticked by, it became evident that the final tally in the Waterside and Sperrin wards would have to be concluded today.

Across the River Foyle in the Waterside it looks like it will be pretty much as you were, with Sinn Fein and the SLDP both expected to return two candidates, with three DUP and Mary Hamilton of the UUP making up the unionist block.

Gerard Diver topped the poll in this ward and was elected on the second count, followed by Ms Hamilton.

Away from the four main parties in the Waterside ward, the two Ukip candidates, one Alliance, one independent and one PUP all failed to get elected.

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