Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Carroll's rise embarrasses SDLP as DUP tightens grip on unionism

People Before Profit man's triumph in spite of scarce resources underlines demise of nationalists but various challenges to dominance of Foster's party rejected by voters

By Suzanne Breen

Published 07/05/2016

Gerry Carroll celebrates after it is announced he has made the quota to be elected an MLA
Gerry Carroll celebrates after it is announced he has made the quota to be elected an MLA

There's a hunger in urban nationalist areas for an alternative to Sinn Fein, but it's not for the SDLP.

The stunning success of People Before Profit candidates in West Belfast and Derry shows that the Sinn Fein machine isn't invincible.

But the SDLP is simply too safe, too comfortable, and too middle-class to capitalise on the discontent. While Colum Eastwood's media performances have been highly impressive, the public has not been convinced.

There has been no bounce for the new leader. That some of the SDLP's most high-profile politicians were last night on the brink of losing their seats spoke volumes about the party's predicament.

Going into the election, it shouldn't have sat on the fence about whether or not to enter the next Executive. It should have bravely and boldly announced that it was heading into opposition.

Gerry Carroll's poll-topping success in West Belfast for People Before Profit was based on a clear, radical left-wing agenda. In its own heartland, Sinn Fein is seen by growing numbers not as the anti-establishment party it likes to portray, but as part of the establishment.

There is strong opposition to welfare cuts, and anger that those who have the least are being hit hardest while corporation tax is about to be reduced.

The same sentiment is prevalent in Derry where an unprecedented 7,500 people voted for two independent candidates, Eamonn McCann and Dr Anne McCloskey.

And in North Belfast, the until now unknown Fiona Ferguson of People Before Profit took almost 1,300 votes on her first electoral outing. The changes in the SDLP that Eastwood has introduced have been more about style than substance. Voters do not know what "progressive nationalism" means.

The SDLP's Claire Hanna performed well in South Belfast but, with other candidates, the party's choice is hugely wrong. It has persisted in running certain male politicians who are not, and never will be, vote-winners. It doesn't matter how intelligent these guys are, the ordinary man in the street doesn't relate to them. Gerry Carroll's success in West Belfast is down to the fact that he doesn't just represent the community, he is part of it.

First Minister Arlene Foster (DUP) with party colleague Lord Maurice Morrow celebrate their victory in Fermanagh South Tyrone as part of The Northern Ireland Assembly Election 2016 at Omagh Leisure Centre.
First Minister Arlene Foster (DUP) with party colleague Lord Maurice Morrow celebrate their victory in Fermanagh South Tyrone as part of The Northern Ireland Assembly Election 2016 at Omagh Leisure Centre.
First Minister Arlene Foster at the election count in Omagh. Picture by John McVitty / Press Eye
Catherine Seeley (left) and John O'Dowd (right) of Sinn Fein celebrate their re-election as counting of votes continues at Banbridge Leisure centre for Upper Bann constituency in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. : Niall Carson/PA Wire
Catherine Seeley and John O'Dowd of Sinn Fein celebrate their re-election as counting of votes continues at Banbridge Leisure centre for Upper Bann constituency in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Sinn Fein's John O'Dowd (left) waits as the counting of votes continues for the Upper Bann constituency in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections at Banbridge Leisure centre in County Down. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th May 2016 - The assembly election count for Upper Bann continues into it's second day today in Bainbridge Leisure centre, with four seats left to be filled. Pictured: Sinn Fein candidate John O'Dowd pictured deep in thought at the second day of the count in Banbrigde. Picture by Philip Magowan / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th May 2016 - The assembly election count for Upper Bann continues into it's second day today in Bainbridge Leisure centre, with four seats left to be filled. Pictured: Ulster Unionist candidate Joanne Dobson has been elected after stage nine, and celebrates with friends, family, and party colleagues. Picture by Philip Magowan / Press Eye.
Richie McPhillips of the SDLP (second left) celebrates being elected in the constituency of Fermanagh & South Tyrone as counting continues at the Omagh count centre in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections.Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Ulster Unionist Jo Anne Dobson celebrates election in Upper Bann with son Mark. Michael McHugh/PA Wire
Rosemary Barton of the UUP celebrates being elected in the constituency of Fermanagh & South Tyrone as counting continues at the Omagh count centre in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Press Eye - Valley Leisure Centre - Count Centre - 7th May 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan Stewart Dickson, Alliance, elected. The count continues for the second day at the Valley Leisure Centre for East Antrim.
DUP leader Arlene Foster MLA for Fermanagh and South Tyrone makes time for a quick cup of tea as counting continues at the Omagh count centre in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Rosemary Barton (UUP) being congratulated by Tom Elliott, MP during The Northern Ireland Assembly Election 2016 at Omagh Leisure Centre. picture by John McVitty / Press Eye
Daniel McCrossan (SDLP) elected West Tyrone as part of The Northern Ireland Assembly Election 2016 at Omagh Leisure Centre. picture by John McVitty / Press Eye
Press Eye - Valley Leisure Centre - Count Centre - 7th May 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan Returning officer Janet Goodall announces Stewart Dickson, Alliance, elected. The count continues for the second day at the Valley Leisure Centre for East Antrim.
Press Eye - Valley Leisure Centre - Count Centre - 7th May 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan The count continues for the second day at the Valley Leisure Centre for East Antrim.
Press Eye - Valley Leisure Centre - Count Centre - 7th May 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan (L-R) Daragh Monaghan, Noel Williams, Sandra Dickson and Stewart Dickson. Stewart Dickson elected. The count continues for the second day at the Valley Leisure Centre for East Antrim.
First Minister Arlene Foster (DUP) arriving today Saturday for The Northern Ireland Assembly Election 2016 at Omagh Leisure Centre. picture by John McVitty / Press Eye
Daniel McCrossan (SDLP) elected West Tyrone as part of The Northern Ireland Assembly Election 2016 at Omagh Leisure Centre. picture by John McVitty / Press Eye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 6th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye DUP's Simon Hamilton, after being successful elected for Strangford at the Assembly Elections at the Aurora Leisure Centre, Bangor. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
(left to right) Pundit Paul McFadden, SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood and People Before Profits Eamonn McCann share a joke at the Foyle Arena in Londonderry, as counting of votes continues in the the Foyle and East Londonderry constituencies in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 6, 2016. See PA story ULSTER Election. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Newly elected DUP MLA's for Belfast South, Emma Little Pengelly and Christopher Stalford celebrate their victory at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Newly elected DUP MLA for Belfast South, Emma Little Pengelly speaks at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Newly elected DUP MLA for Belfast South, Christopher Stalford speaks at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Alliance Party's Paula Bradshaw celebrates after become the MLA for Belfast South at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast, during the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Newly elected MLA SDLP candidate for the Belfast West Claire Hanna, (centre) celebrates with supporters at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Sinn Fein candidate for Belfast West Pat Sheehan speaks with media after being returned for another term during the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 6, 2016. See PA story ULSTER Election. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Sinn Fein candidate Martin McGuinness is interviewed outside the Foyle Arena in Londonderry, as counting of votes continues in the the Foyle and East Londonderry constituencies in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 6, 2016. See PA story ULSTER Election. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Press Eye - Lagan Valley Count Centre - 6th May 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan UUP's David Trimble(left) at the count. The count gets under way at Lisburn Leisure Plex count centre for Lagan Valley and South Down candidates.
Sinn Fein candidate Martin McGuinness is interviewed at the Foyle Arena in Londonderry, as counting of votes continues in the the Foyle and East Londonderry constituencies in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 6, 2016. See PA story ULSTER Election. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 6th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Ulster Unionist Leader Mike Nesbitt success on the first count for Strangford for the Assembly Elections at the Aurora Leisure Centre, Bangor. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood at the Foyle Arena in Londonderry, as counting of votes continues in the the Foyle and East Londonderry constituencies in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 6, 2016. See PA story ULSTER Election. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Press Eye - Lagan Valley Count Centre - 6th May 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan Trevor Lunn with Amanda Grehan. The count gets under way at Lisburn Leisure Plex count centre for Lagan Valley and South Down candidates.
Michelle Gildernew (Sinn Fein), who was elected in the Fermanagh South Tyrone count at Omagh Leisure Centre. picture by John McVitty / Press Eye
Press Eye - Lagan Valley Count Centre - 6th May 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan Harold McKee, elected with Jim Wells. The count gets under way at Lisburn Leisure Plex count centre for Lagan Valley and South Down candidates.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016 Emma Little-Pengelly, DUP at Titanic exhibition Centre in Belfast. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. Two hundred and seventy-six candidates are competing for 108 seats across Northern Ireland's 18 constituencies. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Sinn Fein candidate Martin McGuinness is interviewed outside the Foyle Arena in Londonderry, as counting of votes continues in the the Foyle and East Londonderry constituencies in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 6, 2016. See PA story ULSTER Election. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016 Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams with party colleagues at Titanic exhibition Centre in Belfast. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. Two hundred and seventy-six candidates are competing for 108 seats across Northern Ireland's 18 constituencies. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
A party activists wears a DUP rosette at the Foyle Arena in Londonderry, as counting of votes continues in the the Foyle and East Londonderry constituencies in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 6, 2016. See PA story ULSTER Election. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016 Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams with party colleagues at Titanic exhibition Centre in Belfast. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. Two hundred and seventy-six candidates are competing for 108 seats across Northern Ireland's 18 constituencies. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Gerry Carroll, People Before Profit Alliance looks at his portrait after being elected in West Belfast at Titanic exhibition Centre in Belfast. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Arlene Foster, relaxing after being elected in Fermanagh and South Tyrone. picture by John McVitty, Enniskillen, Co.Fermanagh / Press Eye
Gary Middleton of the DUP is kissed by his wife Julie after election in Foyle, as counting of votes continues in the the Foyle and East Londonderry constituencies in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. PA
Alliance Party's candidate for east Belfast Naomi Long is congratulated after it is announced she has made the quota. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Emma Little-Pengelly, DUP at Titanic exhibition Centre in Belfast. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. Two hundred and seventy-six candidates are competing for 108 seats across Northern Ireland's 18 constituencies. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th May 2016 - The assembly election count for Newry and Armagh takes place in Banbridge Leisure Centre. Pictured: DUP Upper Bann Candidate Sydney Anderson is elected into the Assembly after the second count. Picture by Philip Magowan / Press Eye.
Alastair Patterson (UUP) at the Election Count at Omagh Leisure Centre. Picture by John McVitty / Press Eye
George Robinson of the DUP (centre blue suit) is elected an MLA for East Londonderry as counting of votes continues at the Foyle Arena in Londonderry in the the Foyle and East Londonderry constituencies in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. PA
Sinn Fein candidate Martin McGuinness arrives at the Foyle Arena in Londonderry, as counting of votes continues in the the Foyle and East Londonderry constituencies in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. PA
The assembly election count for Newry and Armagh takes place in Banbridge Leisure Centre. Pictured: DUP Upper Bann candidate Carla Lockhart topped the poll on the first count with a total of 7993 votes. Picture by Philip Magowan / Press Eye.
Martin McGuinness arrives the Foyle Count in the Foyle Arena in Derry. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com.
Alex Easton, DUP after being successful on the first count for North Down for the Assembly Elections at the Aurora Leisure Centre, Bangor. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Vote counters distribute surplus votes during the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections count at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 6, 2016. See PA story ULSTER Election. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Mairtin O Muilleoir, Sinn Fein candidate for Belfast South, applauds the news that he has been elected as an MLA during the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast, where the counting of votes continues in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 6, 2016. See PA story ULSTER Election. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Maurice Bradley of the DUP (centre) celebrates his election as an MLA for East Londonderry, as the counting of votes continues at the Foyle Arena in Londonderry in the Foyle and East Londonderry constituencies in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 6, 2016. See PA story ULSTER Election. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016 DUP's Ian Paisley Jnr at the North Antrim count, held in Ballymena.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016 Sinn Fein's Daithi McKay at the Ballymena count.
DUP leader Arlene Foster (L) gives a victory sign alongside DUP chairman and fellow candidate Lord Morrow (R) after being elected at the Northern Ireland Assembly count at Omagh Leisure on May 6, 2016 in Omagh, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Mairtn î Muilleoir, Sinn Fein candidate for Belfast South, at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast, where the counting of votes continues in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 6, 2016. See PA story ULSTER Election. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
PACEMAKER PRESS 06/05/2016. 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly Election. Votes are counted at Omagh Leisure centre as Voters took to the polls across Northern Ireland. Pictured is DUP leader Arlene Foster with Lord Morrow. PICTURE MARK MARLOW/PACEMAKER PRESS
PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016 Gerry Carroll, People Before Profit Alliance is elected in West Belfast at Titanic exhibition Centre in Belfast. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. Two hundred and seventy-six candidates are competing for 108 seats across Northern Ireland's 18 constituencies. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
OMAGH, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 06: DUP leader Arlene Foster jokes as she attempts to take a photograph of a party colleague after being elected at the Northern Ireland Assembly count at Omagh Leisure on May 6, 2016 in Omagh, Northern Ireland. Two hundred and seventy six candidates are contesting 108 seats across the province. The Democratic Unionist Party are predicted to return as the largest political party in the province with Arlene Foster also returned as First Minister of the power sharing government with Sinn Fein the second largest party. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
OMAGH, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 06: DUP leader Arlene Foster (C) celebrates with party members after being elected at the Northern Ireland Assembly count at Omagh Leisure on May 6, 2016 in Omagh, Northern Ireland. Two hundred and seventy six candidates are contesting 108 seats across the province. The Democratic Unionist Party are predicted to return as the largest political party in the province with Arlene Foster also returned as First Minister of the power sharing government with Sinn Fein the second largest party. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th May 2016 Counting begins at the Titanic Convention centre in east Belfast for the North, East, South West constituencies in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly elections. People Before Profit Alliance candidate Gerry Carroll celebrates after it is announced he has made the quota to be elected an MLA. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Alex Maskey (centre) of Sinn Fein is congratulated by fellow candidate Pat Sheehan (left) and his brother Paul Maskey (right) after being elected as MLA for Belfast West, at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast, where the counting of votes continues in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 6, 2016. See PA story ULSTER Election. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Counting begins at the Titanic Convention centre in east Belfast for the North, East, South West constituencies in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly elections. Sinn Fein candidate for south Belfast Máirtín Ó Muilleoir pictured at the count. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Pacemaker Press Belfast 06-05-2016: NI Assembly election: North Down & Strangford counts in Aurora Leisure Complex in Bangor. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. The Alliance Party's David Ford looks over the numbers during the count. Picture By: Matthew Bohill Pacemaker.
NI Assembly Elections Foyle and East Londonderry count Dup candidate Gary Middleton. Photo: Lorcan Doherty / Presseye.com
The Alliance Party's David Ford looks over the numbers. Picture: Matt Bohill PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016
(L-R) Jane McCallister with her husband Independent John McCallister and SDLP's Margaret Ritchie. The count gets under way at Lisburn Leisure Plex count centre for Lagan Valley and South Down candidates. Press Eye - Lagan Valley Count Centre - 6th May 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan
Pacemaker Press Belfast 06-05-2016: NI Assembly election: North Down & Strangford counts in Aurora Leisure Complex in Bangor. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. Michelle McIlveen, DUP pictured after being elected, reaching the quota for election on the first count. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th May 2016 Counting begins at the Titanic Convention centre in east Belfast for the North, East, South West constituencies in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly elections. People Before Profit Alliance candidate Gerry Carroll celebrates after it is announced he has made the quota to be elected an MLA. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Artist Brian John Spencer draws a caricature of DUP leader Arlene Foster, as he is watched by Guy Spence (left), DUP Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast and Christopher Stalford, DUP councillor for Balmoral, at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast, where the counting of votes continues in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Pacemaker Press Belfast 06-05-2016: NI Assembly election: North Down & Strangford counts in Aurora Leisure Complex in Bangor. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. Michelle McIlveen, DUP pictured after being elected, reaching the quota for election on the first count. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 06-05-2016: NI Assembly election: North Down & Strangford counts in Aurora Leisure Complex in Bangor. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. UUP's Mike Nesbitt pictured after being elected, reaching the quota for election on the first count. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 06-05-2016: NI Assembly election: North Down & Strangford counts in Aurora Leisure Complex in Bangor. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. UUP's Mike Nesbitt pictured after being elected, reaching the quota for election on the first count. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 06-05-2016: NI Assembly election: North Down & Strangford counts in Aurora Leisure Complex in Bangor. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. UUP's Mike Nesbitt pictured after being elected, reaching the quota for election on the first count. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th May 2016 Counting begins at the Titanic Convention centre in east Belfast for the North, East, South West constituencies in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly elections. DUP candidates for south Belfast Christopher Stalford and Emma Pengelly is congratulated after her quota is announced. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th May 2016 Counting begins at the Titanic Convention centre in east Belfast for the North, East, South West constituencies in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly elections. DUP candidate for south Belfast Emma Pengelly is congratulated after her quota is announced. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Counting begins at the Titanic Convention centre in east Belfast for the North, East, South West constituencies in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly elections. Alliance Party's candidate for east Belfast Naomi Long is congratulated after it is announced she has made the quota. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Counting begins at the Titanic Convention centre in east Belfast for the North, East, South West constituencies in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly elections. DUP candidate for east Belfast Joanne Bunting(centre) is congratulated after it is announced she has made the quota. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Counting begins at the Titanic Convention centre in east Belfast for the North, East, South West constituencies in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly elections. DUP candidate for east Belfast Joanne Bunting is congratulated after it is announced she has made the quota. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016 Sinn Fein's Linda Dillon, Michelle O'Neill and Ian Milne celebrate after being elected for Mid-Ulster, at the Ballymena count.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016 Paul Girvan of the DUP tops the polls in South Antrim. Picture Matt Bohill.
PACEMAKER PRESS 06/05/2016. 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly Election. Votes are counted at Omagh Leisure centre as Voters took to the polls across Northern Ireland. Pictured is DUP party leader Arlene Foster arriving at the count centre in Omagh. PICTURE MARK MARLOW/PACEMAKER PRESS
PACEMAKER PRESS 06/05/2016. 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly Election. Votes are counted at Omagh Leisure centre as Voters took to the polls across Northern Ireland. Pictured is DUP party leader Arlene Foster arriving at the count centre in Omagh. PICTURE MARK MARLOW/PACEMAKER PRESS
Counting begins at the Titanic Convention centre in east Belfast for the North, East, South West constituencies in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly elections. DUP candidate for south Belfast Emma Pengelly(second from left) pictured with party colleagues including MP for north Belfast Nigel Dodds(right). Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Nichola Mallon, SDLP candidate for Belfast North, at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast, where the counting of votes continues in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Emma Little-Pengelly, DUP candidate for Belfast South, at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast, where the counting of votes continues in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections.Liam McBurney/PA Wire
(left to right) Nelson McCausland, DUP candidate for Belfast North, Diane Dodds, DUP MEP, William Humphrey and Paula Bradley, DUP candidates for Belfast North, Nigel Dodds, DUP MP for North Belfast and Frank McCoubrey, DUP candidate for Belfast West, at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast, where the counting of votes continues in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Bundes of ballot papers for Anna McCloskey, Independent Party candidate, Martin McGuinness and Meave McLaughlin, Sinn Fein candidates, as the counting of votes continues at the Foyle Arena in Londonderry in the Foyle and East Londonderry constituencies in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Counting of votes continues at the Foyle Arena in Londonderry in the Foyle and East Londonderry constituencies in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Bundles of ballot papers are placed beside each corresponding candidates name, at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast, where the counting of votes continues in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
People Before Profit Alliance candidates Gerry Carroll for Belfast West and Fiona Ferguson for Belfast North, chat at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast, where the counting of votes continues in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Fra McCann, Sinn Fein candidate for Belfast West, at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast, where the counting of votes continues in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Jim Wells arrives at the Lesiure Plex in Lisburn and is refused entry because he does not have photographic ID with him. He is delayed for a short time before he is admitted to the centre. The count gets under way at Lisburn Leisure Plex count centre for Lagan Valley and South Down candidates. Press Eye - Lagan Valley Count Centre - 6th May 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan
Jim Wells arrives at the Lesiure Plex in Lisburn and is refused entry because he does not have photographic ID with him. He is delayed for a short time before he is admitted to the centre. The count gets under way at Lisburn Leisure Plex count centre for Lagan Valley and South Down candidates. Press Eye - Lagan Valley Count Centre - 6th May 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan
Jim Wells arrives at the Lesiure Plex in Lisburn and is refused entry because he does not have photographic ID with him. He is delayed for a short time before he is admitted to the centre. The count gets under way at Lisburn Leisure Plex count centre for Lagan Valley and South Down candidates. Press Eye - Lagan Valley Count Centre - 6th May 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan
Counting begins at the Titanic Convention centre in east Belfast for the North, East, South West constituencies. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th May 2016 Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016 Northern Ireland Assembly elections Counting underway at the Banbrige count centre
A count supervisor sorts voting papers at the Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast, after elections to decide the make-up of the next Stormont Assembly. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
A volunteer counts ballot papers at the counting centre at the Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast, after elections to decide the make-up of the next Stormont Assembly. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Volunteers empty a ballot box in the counting centre at the Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast, after elections to decide the make-up of the next Stormont Assembly. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016 Northern Ireland Assembly elections Counting underway at the Banbrige count centre
PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016 Northern Ireland Assembly elections Counting underway at the Banbrige count centre
PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016 Northern Ireland Assembly elections Counting underway at the Banbrige count centre
PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016 Northern Ireland Assembly elections Counting underway at the Banbrige count centre
PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016 Northern Ireland Assembly elections Counting underway at the Banbrige count centre
PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016 Ballot boxes for the Foyle Constituency in the Northern Ireland Assembly election are opened at the count centre in the Foyle Arena.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 06-05-2016: NI Assembly election: East & South Antrim count at Valley Leisure Centre Glengormley. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. Two hundred and seventy-six candidates are competing for 108 seats across Northern Ireland's 18 constituencies. The votes first have to be verified - checking that the same number of papers are inside the ballot boxes as those given out by polling station staff. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 06-05-2016: NI Assembly election: East & South Antrim count at Valley Leisure Centre Glengormley. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. Two hundred and seventy-six candidates are competing for 108 seats across Northern Ireland's 18 constituencies. The votes first have to be verified - checking that the same number of papers are inside the ballot boxes as those given out by polling station staff. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 06-05-2016: NI Assembly election: East & South Antrim count at Valley Leisure Centre Glengormley. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. Two hundred and seventy-six candidates are competing for 108 seats across Northern Ireland's 18 constituencies. The votes first have to be verified - checking that the same number of papers are inside the ballot boxes as those given out by polling station staff. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 06-05-2016: NI Assembly election: East & South Antrim count at Valley Leisure Centre Glengormley. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. Two hundred and seventy-six candidates are competing for 108 seats across Northern Ireland's 18 constituencies. The votes first have to be verified - checking that the same number of papers are inside the ballot boxes as those given out by polling station staff. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 06-05-2016: NI Assembly election: East & South Antrim count at Vally Leisure Centre Glengormley. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. Two hundred and seventy-six candidates are competing for 108 seats across Northern Ireland's 18 constituencies. The votes first have to be verified - checking that the same number of papers are inside the ballot boxes as those given out by polling station staff. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Counting begins at the Titanic Convention centre in east Belfast for the North, East, South West constituencies. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th May 2016 Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Counting begins at the Titanic Convention centre in east Belfast for the North, East, South West constituencies. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th May 2016 Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
The count gets under way at Lisburn Leisure Plex count centre for Lagan Valley and South Down candidates.
The count gets under way at Lisburn Leisure Plex count centre for Lagan Valley and South Down candidates. Press Eye - Lagan Valley Count Centre - 6th May 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan
The count gets under way at Lisburn Leisure Plex count centre for Lagan Valley and South Down candidates. Press Eye - Lagan Valley Count Centre - 6th May 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan
The count gets under way at Lisburn Leisure Plex count centre for Lagan Valley and South Down candidates. Press Eye - Lagan Valley Count Centre - 6th May 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan
Pacemaker Press Belfast 05-05-2016: NI Assembly election: Voters are heading to polls across Northern Ireland to cast their vote for the Assembly elections. Alliance Party leader David Ford pictured at Second Donegore Presbyterian Church, polling station in Co. Antrim after casting his vote. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Sinn Fein supporters holding sample ballot sheets, showing people how to vote, camped outside St Teresa's Polling Station in West Belfast
Sinn Fein supporters holding sample ballot sheets, showing people how to vote, outside St Teresa's Polling Station in West Belfast
Pacemaker press 05/05/2016 UUP Leader Mike Nesbitt arrives with his wife Lynda at Gilnahirk Primary School to make his vote on Polling day. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 05/05/2016 UUP Leader Mike Nesbitt with his wife Lynda at Gilnahirk Primary School to make his vote on Polling day. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
DUP Leader, Arlene Foster, arriving with councillor Paul Robinson and friend Rhona McMahon at Brookeborough Controlled Primary School to cast her vote in today's Assembly Election.
DUP Leader, Arlene Foster, speaks to a local resident after arriving at Brookeborough Controlled Primary School to cast her vote in today's Assembly Election.
Voters take to the polls across Northern Ireland as voting begins in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly Election. Voters cast their vote in polling stations around Belfast. Pictured are canvassers outside Welcome evangelical church in the Woodvale area of West Belfast. picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 05/05/2016 Voters take to the polls across Northern Ireland as voting begins in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly Election. Voters cast their vote at Holy Trinity Primary School n West Belfast. Pictured is West Belfast's Sinn Fein number 1 candidate Pat Sheehan with a young one direction fan. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 05/05/2016 Voters take to the polls across Northern Ireland as voting begins in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly Election. Voters cast their vote in polling stations around Belfast. picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 05/05/2016 Voters take to the polls across Northern Ireland as voting begins in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly Election. Voters cast their vote in polling stations around Belfast. Pictured are canvassers outside Welcome evangelical church in the Woodvale area of West Belfast. picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 05/05/2016 Voters take to the polls across Northern Ireland as voting begins in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly Election. Voters cast their vote in polling stations around Belfast. Pictured is DUP cllr Brian Kingston [left] outside Edenbrooke ps. picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 05/05/2016 Voters take to the polls across Northern Ireland as voting begins in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly Election. Voters cast their vote in polling stations around Belfast. picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood and his wife Rachel with baby Rosa arrive to cast their vote at the Model Primary School in Derry on Thursday morning for the NI Local Assembly Elections. Picture Margaret McLaughlin © please by-line 5-5-16
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and fellow candidates Maeve McLaughlin and Raymond McCartney arrive to cast their vote at the Model Primary School in Derry on Thursday morning for the NI Local Assembly Elections. Supported by Mitchel McLaughlin and Martina Anderson MEP. Picture Margaret McLaughlin © please by-line 5-5-16
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood's wife Rachel with baby Rosa arrive to cast their vote at the Model Primary School in Derry on Thursday morning for the NI Local Assembly Elections. With Mark Durkan MP and former SDLP leader. Picture Margaret McLaughlin © please by-line 5-5-16
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 5th May 2016 Voters take to the polls across Northern Ireland as voting begins in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly Election. Voters cast their vote at St. Teresa's Primary School Polling Station in west Belfast. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Election candidates Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Raymond McCartney and Maeve McLaughlin after casting their vote at the Model Primary School in Derry on Thursday morning for the NI Local Assembly Elections. Picture Margaret McLaughlin © please by-line 5-5-16

Sitting in his 'Aontroim' sweater and jeans at the count yesterday, his supporters joked that his wardrobe might put him in breach of the strict dress code at Stormont.

Carroll has also worked flat out at a grassroots level in major and minor ways. In the St James area after a power cut, for instance, he was at doors handing out candles.

Sinn Fein threw everything at West Belfast. It erected gazebos outside polling stations. On election day, its canvassers outnumbered those from other parties 10 to one. Tricolour-bedecked cars toured the area, offering lifts to voters.

That Carroll - without a fraction of these resources - still managed to top the poll with 23% of the vote is impressive. It also shows the inadequacies of the local SDLP who should have been asking serious questions of themselves long ago as their vote dwindled in election after election.

Unlike Sinn Fein, the DUP faces no radical threat within its community. Unionists seem far more content with the political status quo. The PUP has not progressed beyond council level. The TUV totally flopped. Jim Allister's many talents haven't extended to party building.

While the public appreciate that he is a thorn-in-the-side of the Stormont establishment, they don't want to elect other TUV-ers to keep him company. It remains to be seen whether Allister has the heart to continue in the Assembly for the next five years or if he will co-opt a younger member to replace him.

Ukip seems a spent force in Northern Ireland. Its motley collection of candidates just didn't make for a credible political force. Despite the DUP's 'Forward with Arlene' campaign being mocked for its presidential style, it resonated with voters. Foster's popularity with the public presents a huge problem for the UUP.

Alliance ran a poor campaign. It didn't make the gains it predicted, and in South and East Belfast the Greens are a growing presence. David Ford, a man of integrity, will surely hand over the leadership to Naomi Long in a bid to stop that drift.

The winners

Gerry Carroll

People Before Profit

The People Before Profit champion scored an unprecedented victory at the expense of Sinn Fein in its electoral heartland of West Belfast, scoring more than twice the first preference votes of the nearest Sinn Fein candidate. He not only took a seat on the first count but easily topped the poll, with 8,229 first preferences – 3,500 votes clear of SF’s top candidate, Alex Maskey, who got 4,769 votes.

Clare Bailey

The Green Party

The Green Party deputy leader was tantalisingly close to a seat in South Belfast late last night, after a strong showing of 3,251 first preference votes – doubling the party’s Assembly representation along with Steven Agnew in North Down. Born in Clonard on the lower Falls in 1970, before moving to Antrim, she and her sister were among the first pupils to attend Lagan College in 1981.

Jim Wells

DUP

After a year of personal and family trauma, including two separate court cases arising from remarks made at hustings in the run-up to the last, General, election and the grave illness of his wife, Grace, the former DUP Health Minister who was forced to resign could not have been sure of his seat until the first count results came in. He is now set to become father of the House.

Eamonn McCann

People Before Profit

The long-time political activist, also standing for People Before Profit, is facing a major lifestyle issue following his victory in Foyle — how to comply with Assembly rules and wear a tie when it comes to the first formal plenary session. The 73-year old prolific author and journalist has an individual satorial, as well as editorial, style but will be required under present rules to don some neckwear.

Jenny Palmer

Ulster Unionists

Although the Ulster Unionist  candidate had to wait a long time yesterday to be sure of her Lagan Valley seat, she got the revenge she wanted after her former DUP colleague Jonathan Craig was knocked out of the race. She resigned from the DUP after being threatened with an internal disciplinary panel over her appearances at a Stormont committee investigating allegations in a BBC programme.

Declan Kearney

Sinn Fein

For a long time in the backroom of Sinn Fein politics, Kearney succeeded in taking the seat vacated by Assembly speaker Mitchel McLaughlin. Kearney has been to the fore in the party’s ‘outreach’ programme to unionists. He’s argued he felt regret for all the families of victims of the Troubles, but there could be no hierarchy of victims.

And the losers

John McCallister

Independent

“It wasn’t my day,” a disappointed Mr McAllister said. Only a few hours after counting got under way it was apparent the former Ulster Unionist and NI21 figure was not going to be returning to the Assembly. Yet his legacy is already secured. If Ulster Unionists or the SDLP, or both, decide to go into Opposition next term they will owe much to the legislation piloted through last term by Mr McAllister.

Ruth Patterson

Independent

The first count total of just 475 votes for the former DUP firebrand was derisory. With her election agent Jamie Bryson, her campaign had been high profile in media terms but failed to catch fire with the electorate. Although she remains an independent on Belfast City Council, she was sacked by the DUP after attacking its selection of then-special adviser Emma Little Pengelly.

Phil Flanagan

Sinn Fein

The Sinn Fein stalwart, who fell foul of his party’s Assembly speaker Mitchel McLaughlin several times, said last night he was “headed for the dole” after losing his Fermanagh and South Tyrone seat. “Unemployment is never a good prospect for anyone, but politics is not a job for life,“ the father of two added. The party’s repeated selection conventions, which at one point saw him off the ticket, cannot have helped.

Fearghal McKinney

SDLP

The former UTV reporter — who has enjoyed one of the most meteoric rises in local politics, elected to the lofty heights of SDLP deputy leader on the same day Colum Eastwood succeeded Alasdair McDonnell — performed very poorly in South Belfast compared to his running mate, and internal party rival, Carmel Hanna on the first count. Now aged 53, he could face a future reduced to media or PR.

Henry Reilly

TUV

The former Ukip standard-bearer was arguably Jim Allister’s best chance of a second seat in the Stormont Assembly. But he crashed in South Down with just over 2,700 first count votes leaving him too far from the final six. The TUV’s next best chance, Mr Allister’s running mate in North Antrim, Timothy Gaston, also failed to cross the line. TUV leader Allister conceded afterwards: “I am disappointed.”

Billy Hutchinson

PUP

Having already been an Assembly member in the heady days when the late David Ervine seemed poised to take the party to greater things, PUP leader Mr Hutchinson’s return to the fray yesterday turned out to be a bruiser, being eliminated on the eighth count after polling 1,238 first preference votes. His city council colleague John Kyle didn’t fare much better with 1,772 first preferences.

Belfast Telegraph

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph