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East Londonderry: Loss of Sinn Fein's Cathal O hOisin main drama in otherwise uneventful count

By Donna Deeney

The elimination of Sinn Fein's Cathal Ó hOisín as the sitting MLA in East Londonderry added the only element of drama to an otherwise uneventful count in this constituency.

When the first preference results were announced on Friday afternoon showing  Ó hOisín's running mate Caoimhe Archibald had polled significantly better than him, a shadow hung over the outcome for the party's sitting  MLA.

Counting for this constituency started well and by teatime on Friday, two MLA's had been deemed elected - Maurice Bradley and George Robinson both for the DUP.

A sturdy lock and chain were put on the door at the Foyle Arena count centre at 10pm on Friday night when counting was suspended for the day.

Proceedings got under way again at 9am on Saturday, opening with Stage Seven of the count and seven names still on the ticket but a couple of hours later the writing was on the wall for the PUP's Russell Watton followed by the Ulster Unionist candidate, William McCandless.

A long lull in proceeding ended in the early afternoon with the final declaration which saw Adrian McQuillan join his two party colleagues holding the three DUP seats.

Clare Sugden who was co-opted to the Assembly two years ago won the seat in her own right and paid tribute to the late David McClarty when she took to the podium in the declaration hall.

All eyes had been on what the final tally would be between SDLP's Gerry Mullan and Sinn Fein's Cathal Ó hOisín and it was Gerry Mullan who made it across the finishing line, keeping the seat that party stalwart John Dallat vacated when he announced his retirement.

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