Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

McGuinness condemns AV poll timing

Martin McGuinness said holding three elections on the one day had complicated matters

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has hit out at the British Government for lumping the AV referendum in with the Assembly and council elections.

At the end of the Mid-Ulster count shortly before 10pm on Saturday night, Mr McGuinness said holding three elections on the one day complicated matters.

"Not just in relation to the count yesterday, and for that I think the British Government are culpable, particularly adding the AV referendum to two elections," Mr McGuinness said.

Mr McGuinness romped home as expected when he topped the poll on Friday evening with 8,957 votes - up from 8,065 in 2007.

In his victory speech he hit out at the dissident republicans who killed Omagh police officer Ronan Kerr, claiming they did not speak for the people of Co Tyrone.

As well as Mr McGuinness, Sinn Fein secured another two seats, returning Francie Molloy and Michelle O'Neill. The SDLP's deputy leader Patsy McGlone retained his seat, while the DUP's Ian McCrea was elected on the first count, and the UUP's Sandra Overend, daughter of outgoing MLA Billy Armstrong, also secured victory.

Months of pressure over the Northern Ireland water crisis failed to dampen support for Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy in Newry and Armagh where all Stormont Assembly members were re-elected.

Three candidates regained their seats after they passed the first count quota - Mr Murphy, Ulster Unionist Danny Kennedy and Dominic Bradley of the SDLP. A second Sinn Fein candidate, Cathal Boylan, won the fourth seat after comfortably taking more than half of Mr Murphy's surplus votes. The DUP's William Irwin gained the fifth seat after the transfer of Mr Kennedy's vote. The constituency returned its final seat in the early hours of Saturday morning with Sinn Fein's Mickey Brady being re-elected.

Disability rights are close to the heart of the first Sinn Fein East Antrim MLA - Oliver McMullan, 56, has a teenage daughter, Tierna, with Down's syndrome and has been championing the cause of children with special needs or disabilities for many years.

Mr McMullan won the last East Antrim seat in a tightly contested election following a count which went late into the night. He said: "It has been an historic occasion, this whole election. We made the breakthrough in North Antrim and South Antrim and now in East Antrim - it is one of the biggest historical events of this election."

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