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Foyle: Eamonn McCann set to snatch a seat for People Before Profit

By Donna Deeney

AS the curtain fell on day one of the the Foyle constituency count, the unforeseen cat amongst the pigeon was  Eamonn McCann who took take the sixth seat when no one was looking.

Second shock of the day was the elimination of Sinn Fein's Maeve McLaughlin leaving Foyle constituency with no female representatives.

Almost 50 years after the veteran campaigner first stood for election to local government, Eamonn McCann will almost certainly snatch the sixth seat from under the noses of Sinn Fein and SDLP.

This must surely be seen as a fail for Sinn Fein who set out to take the third seat from the SDLP by bringing Martin McGuinness from  his secure seat at Mid Ulster even though they should return two seats.

As the results of the first count were announced shortly after 2pm an audible intake of breath could be heard as the returning officer, Patrica Murphy revealed the People Before Profit's candidate had polled 4,176 first preference votes.

Exiting the Foyle Arena for the night, Eamonn McCann said: "The number of first preference votes just about met our expectations.

"We set ourselves a bench mark of 4,000 and we knew we would get a seat if we got that and unless there had been a very unexpected and eccentric pattern of transfers  it looked like we would take the sixth seat."

Raymond McCartney was the first Sinn Fein member to get across the quota of 5,672 after Maeve McLaughin's  shock elimination.

Waiting on the final declaration that would see Martin McGuinness elected he was nonetheless insistent that the party had not failed.

He said: "I would not use the word failure, we held our two seats.  We did set out to take three seats but I think the party that will be most disappointed in this constituency will be the SDLP who will drop to two seats."

"The party that will be most pleased I suppose is People Before Profit whenever Eamonn is, as I predict elected tomorrow."

All eyes had been on the performance of SDLP leader, Colum Eastwood and Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness, the Deputy First Minister and while at one stage, a single vote separated the pair at the end of the day both were certs to make  it across the finish line.

The SDLP must undoubted by devastated to lose their third seat after Gerard Diver's poor poll.

He had been  co-opted to the Assembly in January this year by the SDLP as Pat Ramsey's replacement but a disasterous interview on the Steven Nolan show impacted in the toll booths.

A total of 16 candidates had their names on the ballot paper in Foyle - three of them Independents but at the end of counting last night two of them - Kathleen Bradley and Maurice Devenney  had gone as had Alan Dunlop for the Conservatives, Mary Hassan for the Green Party, Julia Kee UUP, John Lindsay CISTAP and Chris McCaw, Alliance.

Any damage Maurice Devenney had hoped to do to his former party the DUP that he resigned from in extremely acrimonious circumstances in February fell to nothing.

DUP's Gary Middleton was first elected with a comfortable margin over the quota of 5,672 with a total tally of 6641.

Speaking after he was deemed elected, the buoyant DUP man said: "We have had a really positive campaign, we have been up and down lane-ways and we really enjoyed the campaign even though it was difficult, there was a lot of dirt thrown at us but we got through it and thankfully the people came out and put their support to us."

Final tally saw Colum Eastwood and Mark H Durkan elected for SDLP, Martin and McGuinness and Raymond McCartney elected for Sinn Fein, Gary Middleton elected for the DUP and Eamonn McCann elected for People Before Profit.

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