Belfast Telegraph

DUP's Jim Shannon wins 42% of vote in Strangford

The Democratic Unionist Party have added another MP to their influential Westminster cohort with Jim Shannon retaining his seat in Strangford.

The incumbent, who topped the poll for the first time in 2010, romped home with a massive 15,053 votes - nearly 42% of the valid poll in the safe seat.

But he cautioned over the influence the DUP would exert over wider UK politics following the most hotly-contested general election in generations.

"I don't like the idea of coalition that ties. Co-operation would be a better word, a better way to put it," he said.

"We are not against the idea of some sort of a coalition but I don't want to be tied purely to a coalition that would tie us to conditions."

Mr Shannon, the DUP's health spokesman in Westminster, said his priorities include jobs for young people and the over-50s, increased defence spending and more cash for potentially lifesaving drugs, particularly cancer treatments.

"I think what we are committed to, the DUP in government with whoever would be for the betterment of the whole of Northern Ireland."

Mr Shannon's seat was never in doubt - it was one of 10 Northern Ireland constituencies where bookmaker Paddy Power did not offer odds on a winner.

But with one eye on potential negotiations to prop up David Cameron's Conservatives, he said the controversial bedroom tax could prove to be a major stumbling block on any deal to put the Tories in power.

"That will be a condition of any agreement that may come to pass," he said.

Mr Shannon fought back tears in his victory speech in the count centre in Bangor as he recalled his late father Dereck while his mother Mona looked on.

He was elected to Parliament as MP for Strangford at the 2010 general election, receiving nearly 15,000 votes.

The last MP before Mr Shannon was former party colleague Iris Robinson, who resigned in 2009 following a breakdown and weeks before a storm of controversy over her extra-marital affair.

She was not expected to retain the seat if she stood again.


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