Belfast Telegraph

North Antrim: TUV supporters have reason to be cheerful as Allister is first across the finish line

By Nevin Farrell

There were cries of 'praise the Lord' as TUV chief Jim Allister was the first person to be elected in North Antrim.

Former DUP man Roy Gillespie - now a convert to Traditional Unionist Voice - left the late Rev Ian Paisley's party when the DUP leader signed up to powersharing with Sinn Fein.

However, one thing Mr Gillespie has remembered from his time with Dr Paisley is how to celebrate at an election count.

For years he was a right-hand man of Dr Paisley in North Antrim but now he is supporting Mr Allister and when the news arrived last night that Mr Allister was elected he cried out as he waved a Union flag in the air and also spun a football-style rattle.

Mr Allister was also in fine fettle and said he was much maligned by his DUP political opponents last time round when he was the last to be elected, so he was revelling in being first over the line.

The DUP's Paul Frew was elected with the help of 273 transfers from the TUV but party colleague Mervyn Storey was still left with a bit to go on 5,592.

Mr Frew said the DUP were pushing for potentially four seats and he said they were assured of three seats and they didn't mind waiting for them.

Responding to criticism from Mr Allister he said: "Jim will have been looking after himself, we are looking after the country".

Mr Frew said he was glad to have topped the poll but was disappointed his DUP colleague David McIlveen was not voted back in and said "it was muted celebrations in that regard".

He said Mr McIlveen was not present when the result was announced and he intended to call him. Instead, it looked as if Philip Logan was going to take the DUP's third seat. Daithi McKay looked like retaining a seat for Sinn Fein.

Belfast Telegraph

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