North Down: DUP warn 'it's only a matter of time' before they win MP Lady Hermon's seat
The DUP has thrown down the gauntlet to North Down MP Lady Sylvia Hermon, warning it is "only a matter of time" before they win her seat.
Newly elected MLA Gordon Dunne made the remark during his acceptance speech on Saturday afternoon following the re-election of three DUP MLAs in the constituency.
"We are serving notice on the Member of Parliament," he said.
"The DUP want to win this seat. It is only a matter of time."
Lady Hermon topped the poll in North Down comfortably at the last Westminster election in 2015 with 17,689 votes, well ahead of her DUP rival Alex Easton who won 8,487 votes. At the previous poll in 2010 the DUP had stepped aside to allow her a free run.
Mr Dunne's comments have always caused a stir on social media, with East Belfast MLA Naomi Long tweeting her disgust.
"So the gracelessness in victory continues. Sylvia is a lady. North Down know that and respect her."
The acceptance speeches in North Down came after a day and a half of counting at the Aurora Leisure Centre in Bangor.
Mr Easton topped the poll for the DUP for the third consecutive Assembly election and was elected on the first count. His party colleague Mr Dunne was elected on the second stage.
Mr Weir was elected at stage 11 along on Saturday afternoon along with Ulster Unionist candidate Alan Chambers, and Stephen Farry (Alliance).
The DUP man said although he had had a long wait to be declared elected, his party were confident of returning three MLAs from the very first declaration.
"It has been a great day for the DUP across Northern Ireland," he said.
However there was a shift in strength among the smaller parties.
The Green Party almost doubled its vote in North Down with leader Stephen Agnew winning the second highest number of first preference votes.
The Ulster Unionist vote also increased and saw Alan Chambers return to replace UUP veteran Leslie Cree who recently retired.
However the Alliance Party vote appears to have dropped with former Employment and Learning minister Stephen Farry getting elected on the last count.
Alliance had strong ambitions of returning two MLAs, running former North Down Mayor Andrew Muir alongside Mr Farry.
Mr Farry was elected on the final stage without reaching quota.
Mr Agnew was elected in North Down on the eighth stage of the count.
He was just 25 votes short of the 4,605 quota when the count finished on Friday evening, and was declared elected at around 10.30am on Saturday.
Despite being so close to being elected on Friday night, Mr Agnew said he did not push for the count to be continued.
"I could have pushed for the counting to continue but the counters had been working for a long time and being from a trade union background, I was conscious of that," he told the Belfast Telegraph.
"Obviously in Belfast they made a different decision and went on counting which was great for the Green Party as we got to see Clare Bailey elected."