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Strangford: Nesbitt is surprise poll topper in DUP redoubt


Mike Nesbitt

Mike Nesbitt

Mike Nesbitt

The DUP easily returned its three MLAs in Strangford, but the surprise of the day was Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt (below) topping the poll, and the strong performance of independent Jimmy Menagh.

Voter turnout was up marginally, from 48% in 2011 to 50% this year, but all the major parties saw their vote drop, with the DUP seeing the biggest drop of more than 5%.

Former DUP ministers Michelle McIlveen, Jonathan Bell and Simon Hamilton were returned, but the party was disappointed not to gain a fourth seat after Harry Harvey narrowly missed out.

Alliance candidate Kellie Armstrong successfully defended her party's seat, filling the shoes of veteran MLA Kieran McCarthy.

The UUP had an anxious wait to see if it could reclaim its second seat, which had been lost when David McNarry left the party for Ukip.

The sixth seat was a nail-biter with SDLP candidate Joe Boyle seeming well placed to become the first nationalist returned to the Assembly from Strangford on his fourth attempt.

But in the end the UUP's second candidate, former Newtownards mayor Philip Smith, managed to overtake Mr Boyle.

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The final result in Strangford saw the parties enter Stormont in the same numbers as 2001 - three DUP, two UUP and one Alliance.

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