Belfast Telegraph

DUP odds-on to be Stormont's main party but big names sweating on results

By Suzanne Breen

The SDLP's Nichola Mallon, Justice Minister Claire Sugden, and veteran socialist Eamonn McCann are among the high-profile politicians set to lose their seats in Thursday's Assembly election, according to the bookies.

McLean bookmakers also predicts a fascinating neck-and-neck fight between Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy and Ulster Unionist Danny Kennedy for the final seat in Newry and Armagh.

McLean's have the DUP as the runaway 1/4 favourite to win the largest number of Assembly seats - in stark contrast to the dire warnings that Arlene Foster's party is making about the dangers of Sinn Fein becoming top dog at Stormont.

By comparison, the bookies give Sinn Fein a 3/1 outside chance of emerging as the largest party in the Assembly.

In North Belfast, the odds suggest that Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly and Caral Ni Chuilin will be elected, along with the DUP's Paula Bradley, Nelson McCausland and William Humphrey, with high-profile SDLP MLA Nichola Mallon losing her seat.

However, it's not all bad news for the SDLP.

In East Londonderry, McLean's have the party's former MLA, John Dallat, on course to win his old Assembly seat.

They also predict that Claire Sugden and outgoing DUP Assemblyman Adrian McQuillan won't be re-elected.

In Foyle, the odds suggest that the SDLP and Sinn Fein will return two MLAs each, along with the DUP's Gary Middleton.

They have People Before Profit's Eamonn McCann losing the seat that he won just 10 months ago.

In Newry and Armagh, the bookies believe that the SDLP's Justin McNulty, the DUP's Willie Irwin, and Sinn Fein's Megan Fearon and Cathal Boylan, will be safely returned.

They're predicting that the battle for the fifth seat will go down to the wire with Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy and Ulster Unionist Danny Kennedy neck-and-neck. In Mid-Ulster, the odds suggest that Sinn Fein's three outgoing MLAs - Michelle O'Neill, Linda Dillon and Ian Milne - will be re-elected along with the DUP's Keith Buchanan.

A tight battle is predicted for the final seat between the UUP's Sandra Overend and the SDLP's Patsy McGlone, with McLean's unable to separate the two.

In Fermanagh and South Tyrone, they have the DUP and Sinn Fein cleaning up with the SDLP's Richie McPhillips and the UUP's Rosemary Barton both losing their seats.

In South Belfast, McLean's have Sinn Fein's Mairtin O Muilleoir, the SDLP's Claire Hanna, Alliance's Paula Bradshaw, and the Greens' Clare Bailey elected with the DUP losing a seat.

However, they can barely decide whether it will be Emma Pengelly's (4/5) or Christopher Stalford's (evens).

In Strangford, the bookies give DUP rebel Jonathan Bell, who is standing as an independent, little chance of winning (8/1).

However, they predict a fascinating tussle for the last seat between the DUP's Peter Weir (5/6) and the UUP's Philip Smith (evens).

The odds suggest that other losers will be the UUP's Doug Beattie in Upper Bann, the DUP's Trevor Clarke in South Antrim, Sinn Fein's Oliver McMullan in East Antrim, and the UUP's Harold McKee in South Down.

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