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NI election: Previous losers offer up crumbs of comfort to the latest batch of also-rans

By Claire O'Boyle

As a series of high-profile MLAs lost their jobs on Friday, well-known figures who found themselves in the same position after last year's election offered words of support.

Fearghal McKinney, who spent three years at Stormont for the SDLP, lost out to the Green Party's Clare Bailey in 2016.

"It's very difficult," said Mr McKinney (54).

"Each individual going through it will face their own set of circumstances that led to them losing their seat.

"It could be a constituency thing, a specific political development, a whole range of things.

"Like me, they'll spend weeks looking at it, analysing it and trying to figure out what happened. But ultimately life does go on, and a year from now they'll look back at it differently. Whatever you do, don't panic."

DUP stalwart Jonathan Craig, a former engineer, represented Lagan Valley for nine years and accepted his fate pretty quickly.

"We knew going in to last year's election that one of the four of us standing would probably go," he said.

"So when I saw the figures after the first count I knew it wasn't looking good. Of course it was very personally disappointing, but I got my head around it within a few hours and started thinking about what to do next.

"There's no point crying over spilt milk.

"The two things on my mind were about securing the future for my family, and also for making sure my staff were OK.

"But the system at the time allowed a bit of a buffer of redundancy so we were able to get things together and now I'm happy to say they're all re-employed. The way things worked out for me were good, too, and I was able to get back onto the council, which I'm very happy with.

"It's a big disappointment of course, because a job like that is more than just a job, it's a big part of your life.

But things carry on, and you very quickly adjust to life as you once knew it.

"It's absolutely fine."

Sinn Fein's Rosie McCorley spent a term at Stormont before People Before Profit's Gerry Carroll took her seat in West Belfast last year.

"Of course it was disappointing," said Rosie (60). "But it was disappointing for me and the party. We'd had a big majority in West Belfast, so it was always going to be hard to hold on to all five seats out of six, and when Gerry Carroll got one we weren't that shocked. People Before Profit were doing really well at the time. The way I looked at it, I was a Sinn Fein activist before I was an MLA, and the day after I lost my seat, I was still a Sinn Fein activist.

"I got a new job, but I carried on in the party and was out on the doors during this election and I'm really pleased for everyone that they're doing so well this time round. For people facing it this year, I don't know what advice to give.

"Everyone's experience will be very different, but I still count myself as part of the party and I didn't take it to heart. People are going to vote for who they want, and that's always up to them. It's politics, and you've got to take it for what it is."

Results centre - select a constituency - every result as it happened -

North Antrim - East Antrim - South Antrim - North Belfast - East Belfast - South Belfast - West Belfast - Strangford - South Down - Lagan Valley - Upper Bann - Newry and Armagh - Fermanagh & South Tyrone - West Tyrone - Mid Ulster - East Londonderry - Foyle - North Down

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