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Alliance's David Ford holds on to South Antrim seat

Published 06/05/2016

Latest news from Northern Ireland
Latest news from Northern Ireland

All six seats were filled on the first day of counting in South Antrim.

David Ford retained his seat - something which many earlier in the day thought might not happen. The Alliance leader, who has represented South Antrim since 1998, came seventh in the first count, with 3,119 votes.

He was eventually elected in stage six after the transfer of votes from SDLP candidate Roisin Lynch.

Mr Ford said: "It clearly says we (Alliance) still have a role. I've proved that if I'm not people's first preference, I'm an awful lot of people's second preference. It doesn't matter if you are sixth, seventh, eighth if there are people who are going to give you transfers."

The other big story from the day was the DUP retaining all three seats. The first to be elected in South Antrim was Paul Girvan, who also topped the poll at the Assembly elections in 2011.

He was just six short of the quota after the first round of voting but was elected in the second stage. Mr Girvan took 5,014 first preference votes (surpassing his 2011 vote), with party colleague Pam Cameron coming in third in stage one with 4,589. She was elected in the fifth count. Trevor Clarke, who was first elected in 2007, was voted in in the seventh stage without reaching the quota.

The UUP's Stephen Aiken, a retired nuclear submarine commander, was also elected in the 7th round. The UUP was hoping to win another seat after Danny Kinahan defeated the DUP's William McCrea in the general election in 2015.

Sinn Fein's Declan Kearney, who replaced outgoing MLA Mitchell McLaughlin, retained the party's seat. He had the second highest first preference votes at 4,632 and was elected in the sixth round.

The main casualty of the day was UUP candidate Adrian Cochrane-Watson losing his Assembly seat in the early evening.

The turnout at 35,544 was 51.01% of the eligible electorate.

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