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Upper Bann: Veteran Kelly loses out after marathon count

By Staff Reporter

Published 09/05/2016

Dolores Kelly, who lost her seat
Dolores Kelly, who lost her seat
Jo-Anne Dobson celebrates with her son Mark
John O’Dowd had an anxious wait for his result

Former SDLP deputy leader Dolores Kelly was one of the biggest casualties of the Assembly election after she lost her seat in a marathon Upper Bann count.

The nailbiting battle for the three remaining seats between Ms Kelly, the UUP's Doug Beattie and Sinn Fein's John O'Dowd and Catherine Seeley remained tight to the bitter end.

After Mr Beattie secured his seat it was a long wait at Banbridge Leisure Centre for the final two to be declared before Mr O'Dowd, the former Education Minister, triumphed by 161 votes.

Mr O'Dowd, whose disregard for academic selection and combative style alienated many in this largely unionist constituency, described it as "an historic victory for Sinn Fein. It was down to the wire at the very end".

"The people have spoken, democracy has prevailed and myself and Catherine are elected," he added.

Earlier, the DUP had dominated the initial part of the count with Carla Lockhart and Sydney Anderson the first two candidates elected.

The UUP's Jo-Anne Dobson, who retained her seat, spoke on behalf of Mr Beattie, who buried his 15-month-old grandson at the weekend. The Army veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq was elected as he attended the funeral of the baby boy.

"I want to send my sympathies and heartfelt prayers to Doug and his family during this unimaginable time," she said.

And Ms Kelly put her own loss into perspective after 23 years of public service.

"Doug Beattie buried his grandson," she said.

"I am going home to my grandchildren."

Belfast Telegraph

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