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DUP left fuming as Catney's win pushes out Hale

Lagan Valley

By John Mulgrew

New SDLP MLA Pat Catney's surprise spanner in the works for the DUP will not only be felt in Lagan Valley, but also ensures the dominant unionist party can no longer wield the controversial petition of concern.

There was anger in DUP ranks, with Edwin Poots saying it was "appalling" unionists had transferred votes to a nationalist over the party's Brenda Hale.

Mr Catney took the final seat, ensuring Arlene Foster's party failed to return three MLAs.

And while the DUP's Paul Givan came in comfortably on the first count, it was down to the wire for its final seat, with Mr Poots elected as the midnight hour approached.

Catney, his declaration speech the last words spoken as the late count grew to a close at Lagan Valley Leisureplex, said: "I know together we can make Lagan Valley better... I want to make my home work."

A fresher face in Northern Ireland unionism, former firefighter Robbie Butler, was elected. So, too, was Alliance stalwart Trevor Lunn.

Belfast Telegraph

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