Belfast Telegraph

Local elections 2014: This year's winners and losers

By Adrian Rutherford

Lisburn & Castlereagh: NI21's sole seat steals limelight — The DUP was the big winner in Lisburn and Castlereagh, taking exactly half of the new council's seats, but the headlines were made by NI21.

Its pre-election meltdown was briefly forgotten as Johnny McCarthy became its first representative in local government.

Asked how he planned to celebrate, Mr McCarthy joked: "I'm going to go home and have a Chinese."

The super council is an amalgamation of the old Lisburn and Castlereagh districts.

Lisburn has lost around 20% of its voters to Belfast, while 40% of the old Castlereagh council has gone to Belfast.

By the time counting had finished at 4.50pm on Saturday evening, the DUP had claimed 20 of the 40 seats.

Eight Ulster Unionist councillors were returned while Alliance have seven seats. The SDLP have three with the TUV taking one.

Mr McCarthy claimed NI21's sole council seat in Northern Ireland in the Lisburn North area.

His success surprised many, including himself, having admitted last week that he was unlikely to get elected.

The 24-year-old wheelchair-bound spina bifida sufferer is a political writer and a nephew of Archbishop Eamon Martin.

Despite his success, there was no sign of party leader Basil McCrea at his local count centre, angering some NI21 representatives.

David Cairns had been NI21's main hope, but he missed out to Amanda Grehan of Alliance for the final seat in Lisburn South.

On Friday night another NI21 candidate, Christina Dobson, narrowly lost out to Alliance's Aaron McIntyre in the 10th count in Downshire East.

The main winner was the DUP which attracted around 40% of the overall vote with Killultagh candidate, Thomas Beckett, making history by becoming the first elected to the new council.

Northern Ireland council results 2014 

Newtownabbey & Antrim: Poll toppers lose deputy mayors

The DUP edged out their resurgent Ulster Unionist rivals, with nationalist councillors sharing just seven seats, in the battle for unionist-dominated Antrim and Newtownabbey Council.

The DUP’s topping of the poll did not come without a price though, the party losing two deputy mayors when the votes were tallied up at the Valley Leisure Centre.

Dineen Walker, who broke ranks with her party over a contentious ban on a Biblical play, exited the political stage.

Ms Walker spoke out against the block on the religious satire by the Reduced Shakespeare Company taking place in Newtownabbey earlier this year.

And the DUP deputy mayor paid the price among the party's electorate.

Another deputy mayor, Antrim's Brian Graham, also of the DUP, bowed out after more than a decade.

Of the 40 seats up for grabs 15 went to the DUP, 12 to the Ulster Unionists, four Alliance, four SDLP, three Sinn Fein and two TUV. None of the five NI21 candidates secured a seat.

The turnout was 54.8% across the seven electoral wards. Most candidates didn't have long to wait — the first confirmed members of the new council body were revealed shortly after lunchtime on Friday.

First through, on the third count, was the DUP's Nigel Kells. Adrian Watson of the Ulster Unionists followed suit.

Sinn Fein lost their seat in Antrim to the SDLP. The party's Noel Maguire took a philosophical approach, declaring: “That's politics.”

The mother of DUP member Phillip Brett hugged her son after it was confirmed he had been re-elected.

Mr Brett’s 18-year-old brother Gavin was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries in 2001.

The seat of the new council has yet to be decided, with meetings planned in both Newtownabbey and Antrim.

Derry: Republican dissident elected as SDLP loses council dominance

The election of a dissident republican and the SDLP’s fall from the top spot for the first time in Londonderry sent shockwaves throughout the count centre.

At the end of the count, the party breakdown for the new Derry and Strabane Council was 13 Sinn Fein, 10 SDLP, eight DUP, two UUP and four independents.

Gary Donnelly, who is a prominent member of the 32 County Sovereignty movement, stood as an independent and topped the poll with 1,154 votes in the Moor DEA where the quota was 1,143.

He was elected on the first count and the news was greeted loudly by a large and jubilant contingent of supporters waving Irish flags at the entrance of the count centre.

This was not the only surprise announced by the deputy returning officer Sharon O'Connor over the two-day count for the DEAs of Waterside, Ballyarnett, Sperrin, Derg, Foyleside, Faughan and Moor that will make up the new Derry and Strabane District Council in 2015.

Long before counting was completed it was clear that for the first time since the party formed, the SDLP was not going to be the dominant force in Derry and the new ‘super council’ would be led by Sinn Fein.

However, with four independent candidates all winning seats, the Derry and Strabane Council elections could also have been dubbed ‘Independents Day'.

Among the big shocks for the SDLP was the loss of Brenda Stevenson, who has been a councillor since 2006.

A tearful Ms Stevenson, who failed to secure a seat in Faughan, said the make-up of the new electoral wards had hit her party hard — although a debacle where the party withdrew support for a candidate two days before polls opened is also believed to have been a major factor. Sinn Fein will have a strong presence on the new council with a total of 13 candidates, although it did not escape the force of independents.

Sitting SF councillor Barney O'Hagan failed to get elected in the Foyleside ward where independent Darren O'Reilly topped the poll with 1,091 votes, just above quota.

However, Karina Brelsin said the election was still a great victory for Sinn Fein.

“We are delighted that we will be joining our party members in Derry to be the largest party in the new council,” she said.

The DUP will go into the new council with eight councillors and the UUP's Mary Hamilton will be joined by party colleague Ross Hussey. He topped the poll in Derg.

The DUP polled well in the Waterside and Faughan DEA's with one of the youngest candidates, Gary Middleton, topping the poll in Faughan.

He dedicated both his campaign and election to his fiancee Julie Davis.

“The campaign gave me a great excuse to get away from the wedding plans but I will have to get back to them now,” he said.

After two days of counting — including two recounts — the results of the Sperrin DEA were three Sinn Fein councillors, two DUP, one independent candidate, Paul Gallagher, and Patsy Kelly the sole SDLP winner.

 

Belfast: Leader remains upbeat despite DUP’s bloody nose from rivals

The face of unionism in the new Belfast City Council has changed significantly with big gains for the Ulster Unionist Party.

The UUP, which had just three councillors, walked away at the close of the Belfast count in the early hours of Sunday morning with seven.

The gains appeared to be down to a number of factors including the flag protests, more small unionist parties running and tactical mistakes by the DUP and Alliance.

Veteran Ulster Unionist Jim Rodgers — who gained the highest overall number of first preference votes — said the media had written his party off.

“This has been an excellent result for the party and we are going to go from strength to strength,” he said.

The PUP gained a seat with newcomer Julie Anne Corr elected in the Oldpark ward, edging out DUP group leader Lee Reynolds and bringing the PUP total to three, while the TUV picked up their first ever seat on the council when Jolene Bunting was voted into the Court area.

There was further blow for the DUP when the Green Party gained its first Belfast councillor after Ross Brown narrowly defeated Denny Vitty in one of the last results of the election — the Ormistice ward — which did not finished counting until 1.30am.

The Green Party narrowly missed out on gaining a second seat in the Botanic ward, however Green leader Steven Agnew said he was delighted with the performance, in addition to his party's tripling of its number of councillors on North Down council.

DUP leader Peter Robinson was philosophical about the bloody nose his party had received when he visited City Hall on Saturday afternoon.

“It's always a bit like the curate saying — it was good and bad in parts,” he said

“From our point of view we have a very strong team here in the city. Looking at the remaining seats I am content that we are going to get key personalities in there and be able to give leadership to the council and city as a whole.

“We are pleased, but you never are satisfied with any election, you always think you have missed out by a bit here and there, but we have the largest number of councillors across Northern Ireland.

“We are very pleased that particularly in Lisburn we are heading towards being not just the largest party but have 20 out of the 40 seats.”

Mr Robinson conceded he was sad to see the end of Castlereagh Council where his party and indeed family had dominated with his wife Iris and son Gareth also serving there for a time.

“I'm wondering what happens to me now. I'm a Freeman of the borough of Castlereagh and it is no longer, so I am free to a borough that doesn't exist.”

Sinn Fein are now the largest party by some distance on the council with 19 seats, followed by the DUP (13), Alliance (8), UUP (7), SDLP (7), PUP (3), TUV (1), Greens (1) and People before Profit (1).

This new line-up creates a nationalist majority of 26 over 24 unionists, with 10 others — including the Alliance, Greens and People before Profit holding the balance of power.

 

 

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