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Jubilant Sammy Wilson faces double-jobbing dilemma after retaining seat in style

By Victoria O'Hara

Published 09/05/2015

The DUP’s Sammy Wilson enjoys the moment after retaining his seat in East Antrim
The DUP’s Sammy Wilson enjoys the moment after retaining his seat in East Antrim

It was really only ever a one-horse race in East Antrim and the win by Sammy Wilson with 12,103 votes - almost double the UUP total - clearly proved it.

Despite losing almost 2,000 votes from his 2010 Westminster triumph, the former Finance Minister was confidently first past the post in 2015.

His closest rival, the UUP's Roy Beggs, polled 6,308 votes.

Mr Wilson first stood in the constituency in 2001 when he battled veteran Ulster Unionist Roy Beggs senior. But in what has been a safe DUP seat, this poll still signalled a drop in support for the former teacher. In 2010 he received 13,993 votes - a 45.88% majority.

Alliance's Stewart Dickson won 5,021 votes. It was also a good night for Ukip whose candidate Noel Jordan polled 3,660. Sinn Fein's Oliver McMullan, who was running for the Westminster seat for the second time, polled 2,314 votes.

A jubilant Mr Wilson arrived just after 10pm at the count at the Valley Leisure Centre in Newtownabbey.

"You are never likely to be presumptuous about these things, but if you look at the past records of elections, Westminster and Assembly, over the last five years and the reaction we have got on the doorstep," he said.

"I suppose what is important for us is what percentage of the vote we can get because our eyes are not so much on this election but the Assembly election next year," he added.

But his win came as no surprise after he received nearly double the votes of the UUP.

Taking to the podium in the Valley Leisure Centre, he delivered a victory speech where he spoke of defending the special needs of Northern Ireland.

Mr Wilson, who is also an MLA, must choose between the Commons and Stormont before long. The DUP insisted it wanted to end double-jobbing but Mr Wilson and East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell have so far been allowed to remain in the Assembly.

There is speculation that the former Belfast Lord Mayor will opt to remain at Stormont, where he will be a major contender for the party leadership in a post-Peter Robinson scenario.

"That issue has to be dealt with," he said.

"I have to contemplate that very, very greatly and haven't made my mind up yet."

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