We're now a force, says Ukip MLA McNarry
Ukip's success in the Eastleigh by-election augurs well for future gains in Northern Ireland, it has been predicted.
The party's only MLA, David McNarry, said the task now was to persuade voters to make Ukip their first choice.
The former Ulster Unionist switched to Nigel Farage's party last year after a protracted stand-off over unity talks between the UUP and DUP.
The surge by Ukip in the English by-election forced the Conservatives into third place and Labour into fourth – with the Liberal Democrats holding on despite reduced support.
Mr Farage said it was the party's best performance in a poll for a Westminster seat and showed it had now "connected with voters".
Mr McNarry added: "The Eastleigh result confirms poll findings by Ukip here in Northern Ireland which show strong voter indications supporting Ukip as a truly national UK party while also being a real local alternative.
"We must now work to convert people to making Ukip their first choice – which I forecast is eminently do-able, given the collapse of public confidence in many of the older local parties."