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Ian Paisley celebrates win, but misses his dad by his side

By Nevin Farrell

There was a celebratory kiss from his wife Fiona as well as impromptu selfies and being carried aloft on the shoulders of supporters.

But as Ian Paisley junior celebrated a resounding return to Westminster by the people of North Antrim, it was clear things were not as they should have been at the count centre.

It was the first election the DUP candidate had fought without his father at his side after his death last September.

In 2010 Ian jnr fought and won the constituency with his proud father watching on. This time Dr Paisley was not present to bring his unique brand of election night theatre to Ballymena.

The newly returned MP said it was "unusual" to have fought an election without his dad.

As he was cheered by supporters at the Seven Towers Leisure Centre, Mr Paisley said he was dedicating the success to his mother Eileen and wife Fiona. He said his mother came through a "difficult" time following the death of her husband in 2014.

Mr Paisley said: "Forty-six years ago to this very day my father was released from prison and it seems a rather fitting tribute that his son has once again been returned to our national parliament. I would like to thank the two most important women in my life and to dedicate this victory to them.

"To my mum, it has been a difficult year for her but she has proved the grace of God is sufficient at all times... to my mummy and supportive wife, with whom my life would be without sunshine, I dedicate this victory to you both."

Afterwards Mr Paisley revealed what it was like not to have his father present to see him returned to the Commons.

"I think anyone who loses a parent, especially one they were very close to, knows there is a gap there you can never fill, but I think you take away from that all the lessons you have learned about life," he said.

As predicted, Mr Paisley won by a landslide with 18,107 votes, well ahead of second placed Timothy Gaston of the TUV on 6,561.

As he took to the podium before joining with supporters to sing God Save The Queen, Mr Paisley said he wished to thank "Almighty God for this victory this evening".

Mr Paisley said the success was the "icing on the cake" for him after what he said was one of the "most low-key campaigns" he was ever involved in.

Second-placed Mr Gaston said he ran for Westminster at the young age of 26 and thought it was "very credible" that he had held the TUV council vote from last year.

Speaking in the count centre held in a sports hall where he often plays five-a-side football, Mr Gaston said he had new kinds of goals to aim for now.

He said: "Looking forward to going into 2016, the TUV has shown we have a solid base in North Antrim and I believe that will grow in the future. Overall Ian Paisley's majority is down and our vote is slightly down - but five years ago (party leader) Jim Allister was running."

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