Belfast Telegraph

DUP loses seats as SDLP and Alliance Party make gains

He cruised to victory by around 3,000 votes in the affluent Belfast commuter constituency.

The staunchly pro-Remain Alliance Party has taken Northern Ireland’s first Westminster seat in a major upset for the DUP (Michael Cooper/PA)
The staunchly pro-Remain Alliance Party has taken Northern Ireland’s first Westminster seat in a major upset for the DUP (Michael Cooper/PA)

By PA Reporters

Here is a run-down of the winners and losers in Northern Ireland’s 18 constituencies at the 2019 General Election.

– North Down

The staunchly pro-Remain Alliance Party has taken Northern Ireland’s first Westminster seat in a major upset for the DUP.

Stephen Farry cruised to victory by around 3,000 votes in the affluent Belfast commuter constituency of North Down.

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Stephen Farry at the count (Michael Cooper/PA)

He hailed a resounding vote against Brexit and pledged to work in Westminster to frustrate the EU exit.

Mr Farry said: “This is a victory for the values that this constituency has been known for for many years, those of moderation, rationalism and inclusion.”

He added: “They have come together behind a single cause, of sending out a very powerful message that the North Down area wants to Remain.

“We believe that there is no such thing as a good or sensible Brexit.

“Indeed, all forms of Brexit are damaging to the UK and to us in Northern Ireland and in particular the Boris Johnson deal.”

Alliance leader Naomi Long celebrated with her victorious candidate with a hug and a wave for the cameras.

The last MP for North Down, independent unionist Lady Sylvia Hermon, was the sole Northern Ireland Remain voice in the previous Parliament.

Mr Farry’s defeated opponent, Alex Easton of the DUP, said his vote had gone up on previous showings and added he would be back.

Northern Ireland has been without a devolved government for almost three years after a fall out between the DUP and Sinn Fein.

Mr Easton said: “I do think that people need to start thinking about the future for Northern Ireland and I do think we do need to try to get the Assembly running as soon as possible and I hope I can work with my colleagues and other parties to make sure that we achieve that.”

– Strangford

The DUP’s Jim Shannon was re-elected MP for the Co Down constituency of Strangford with 7,000 votes to spare in a wave of unionist anger at Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy.

He said it was a vote of opposition to the Prime Minister’s proposed deal over concerns it would create a customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

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Mr Shannon said his election was a vote to protect the union from the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan (Michael Cooper/PA)

Mr Shannon delivered his maiden speech to the House of Commons in the Ulster Scots tongue when first elected in 2010.

On Friday, he said: “The union has been degraded and downgraded by Boris Johnson.

“He would take your alsatian dog for a walk, he would come back an hour later and give you a chihuahua and tell you it was all right.”

He said they needed to convince the British premier of the importance of the union, and claimed the DUP’s numbers in the next Parliament would give it influence.

Mr Shannon added: “We will do our bit to make sure that the union, for those who live in Leicester, London, Manchester, Newcastle or wherever else in the UK, also is the same for the people of Strangford and the people of Strangford have told me that.”

His closest rival, the cross-community Alliance party’s Kellie Armstrong, said Northern Ireland deserved a restored devolved government.

She said: “We have a health service that is falling apart, we have education that needs reform, we have infrastructure that is in a desperate state of crisis and it is time for the Assembly to be back.”

She added: “We have had enough, you have had enough and it is time to move on.”

West Tyrone

In an unsurprising victory, Orfhlaith Begley raced across the line to claim the West Tyrone seat.

In an election that saw 41,375 votes polled, Ms Begley won the seat with 16,544 votes.

It was expected that the Carrickmore woman would hold to the seat, which has been in Sinn Fein’s hands since 2001 after Pat Doherty was elected.

The 27-year-old is the first woman to hold the West Tyrone seat.

She was selected by Sinn Fein to contest the by-election in 2018 after Barry McElduff stepped down from the seat following a controversy over a video he posted to Twitter.

The turnout for West Tyrone was 62.44%, slightly more than the by-election which saw 55.1% of the electorate cast its vote.

Speaking after her win, Ms Begley said: “This was a crucial election, the election of a generation and clearly people wanted their views heard in terms of Brexit.

“This is a border constituency that rejected Brexit in the referendum and people came out again in this election to once again reject Brexit.

“People have been very energised in terms of of this campaign and people came out in their thousands to reject Brexit but also to reject Tory austerity.

“They sent  a very clear message that they see their future in a new Ireland for all.

“Sinn Fein has made its voice count where it matters, in terms of Brussels, we have been there, in Dublin and we also travel to London on a regular basis.

“We gave a pledge in 2017 that we would ensure special status for the North, we would protect the Good Friday Agreement and the all Ireland economy and we have delivered on all three of those.”

-North Belfast

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John Finucane has gained North Belfast for Sinn Fein (Liam McBurney/PA)

Sinn Fein’s John Finucane has declared North Belfast has rejected Brexit after winning the seat from incumbent, the Democratic Unionist Party deputy leader Nigel Dodds.

Mr Finucane triumphed following a tight contest with Mr Dodds taking the seat with 23,078 votes ahead of his rival who finished on 21,135 votes.

The Sinn Fein man, who benefited from a pro-Remain alliance with the SDLP and Green Party who stood aside in support of him, said his victory was a rejection of Brexit.

“I want to thank each and every person who came out to vote for me today and I also want to acknowledge here tonight that there were those who stretched themselves and I know that this election was an election that transcended party politics and I know that I was very much the beneficiary of that today,” he said.

“I think this election is about the future of North Belfast, we saw the threat of Brexit and what that meant for the people of Belfast, we saw the threat to our economy, the threat to our children’s futures and I think that message, that remain voice that was heard in 2016 was amplified beyond recognition again tonight.

“North Belfast rejects Brexit, North Belfast is a Remain constituency, North Belfast wants a future as part of the European Union and I think that is hugely significant.”

He added: “As an MP I pledge to you all tonight that I will work for every single person in this constituency whether you voted for me or not.”

Referring to Sinn Fein’s policy of not taking seats at Westminster, Mr Dodds said he “regrets North Belfast will be left unrepresented in the House of Commons at a challenging time”.

The DUP man who had held the seat since 2001 said: “As far as Brexit is concerned, it is very clear now that Brexit is going to happen with Boris Johnson’s predicted majority and it is very very important that the Northern Ireland Assembly is got up and running as quickly as possible so that the Northern Ireland Executive and politicians can have a role in that going forward. But Boris Johnson needs to understand that we must have a Brexit that ensures that it protects the integrity of the United Kingdom and is the best deal for Northern Ireland and that is something we will continue to work with the Government on in the days ahead.”

– Mid Ulster

Sinn Fein’s Francie Molloy has comfortably retained his seat in Mid Ulster with 45.9% of the vote.

It is a seat the party has held for 22 years, with former deputy first minister Martin McGuinness the MP from 1997 until 2013 when he was replaced by Mr Molloy in a by-election.

With 20,473 votes polled, Mr Molloy’s share is down slightly since the 2017 election when he won 54.5% of the vote.

He said: “This was a Brexit election. Brexit has wrecked the entire political process and it is going to wreck the Union as well. The one certainty for us to return to the European Union is Irish unity. That’s the open door we have to Europe and I would hope to continue that as soon as possible.”

As in the 2017 election, Molloy’s nearest rival was the DUP’s Keith Buchanan, whose vote decreased to 10,936.

Mel Boyle of the Alliance Party increased the party’s share from 2.3% to 7.9%, while the SDLP’s Denise Johnston increased her party share by 4.5%.

Turnout in Mid Ulster was 63.83%.

– East Londonderry

In one of the most unsurprising victories of the night, the DUP’s Gregory Campbell has retained his seat in East Londonderry.

With a lion’s share of the vote at 15,765, Mr Campbell was returned comfortably.

“When those who try to analyse and say votes are down, I hope they will look at the vote we got in East Londonderry and see that our majority is up,” he said.

“That’s because the people here want a hardworking, effective hard hitting MP who doesn’t pull any punches and that’s what they will get in the next few years.

“We will wait to see the outcome, and hopefully all parties commit to get back to Stormont to make this country the best country in the United Kingdom and make it a much more prosperous country we’ve had in the past.”

Speaking before his win, Mr Campbell said the onus was on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to deliver on his brexit promises, adding: “Well, whatever majority Boris has there will be an onus on him to deliver on no checks east-west and an even bigger issue on how does he preside over the UK, Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and how does he cement that and build that for the future.

“In my view, he has to do that on an economic basis, so that people here and in Scotland see a tangible benefit of staying in the UK, and then people will want to stay.”

The incumbent Mr Campbell romped home against newcomer SDLP candidate Cara Hunter on 6,128, who pipped Sinn Fein to the post for second place by just 30 votes.

Also running against Mr Campbell was Richard Holmes, UUP, Sinn Fein’s Dermot Nicholl, the Alliance Party’s Chris McCaw, and from newly-formed Aontu party Sean McNicholl.

– Foyle

What was initially thought to be a tight race saw the SDLP’s Colum Eastwood win back the Foyle seat from Sinn Fein’s Elisha McCallion with a huge majority.

The SDLP will be celebrating tonight after garnering 26,881 votes, against Ms McCallion’s 9,771.

Ms McCallion was previously elected in 2017 from Mr Eastwood’s colleague Mark Durkan by the tightest of margins with only 169 votes, in what is historically an SDLP heartland and the home of former leader John Hume.

It was clear from early in the evening that the SDLP were due to make something of a comeback in Northern Irish politics, as Mr Eastwood and his colleague Claire Hanna were both predicted for victories.

It was made even clearer when upon her arrival to the Magherafelt count centre, Ms McCallion congratulated her rival before the votes had even been called out.

“Keep it up,” she said as hugged Mr Eastwood.

Mr Eastwood said that he was keen for Northern Ireland to “get back to work”.

“I want to especially thank the people of Derry, I think they have sent a clear message, roared that message to all of us in politics today,” Mr Eastwood said during his victory speech.

“This is a story about the revival of the SDLP but it’s more about the message and desire of the people of our city and the people of the north generally.

“We hear you loud and clear, we know you want someone to go to Westminster to fight your case, to stand up to Boris Johnson, to protect us from Brexit.

“You also want us to get back to work in Stormont, no more excuses will be accepted by the people of our city or by the people of Northern Ireland.

“Monday is an opportunity, let’s get on with it.”

The total votes polled for the Foyle constituency was 47,370, which marked a 63.72% turnout.

In third was the DUP’s Gary Middleton on 4,773.

Candidates who also ran in the constituency are Alliance’s Rachael Ferguson, UUP representative Darren Guy, Aontu’s Dr Anne McCloskey and People Before Profit’s Shaun Harkin.

– West Belfast

Another thumping Sinn Fein majority in west Belfast has sent a loud message to the Conservatives that it is time for Irish unity, returning MP Paul Maskey said.

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Sinn Fein’s Paul Maskey speaks after winning the Belfast West seat (Liam McBurney/PA)

Mr Maskey’s 20,866 votes in the republican stronghold was more than his five rival candidates polled combined.

However, his vote was down from the 27,107 he received in 2017, with his 21,652 majority reduced to a still sizeable 14,672.

Mr Maskey was first elected in 2011, having succeeded long standing MP Gerry Adams when the then Sinn Fein president resigned from the UK parliament to run for a seat in the Irish Dail.

Mr Maskey thanked his family and supporters as he paid tribute to the people of west Belfast and the economic and social advances he said had been achieved in recent years.

“What it looks like in Britain is that the Tories are going into a massive majority,” he said.

“This election and this election in Belfast sends a massive clear message to the Tories that we are not going away and our voice is going to be heard loud and clear, as it has been in England, in London, in Europe, in America and indeed on this island.”

Mr Maskey added: “We will continue to make sure that our voice is heard.

“We have a mandate to deliver equality and respect and we have a mandate to deliver unity.”

People Before Profit leader Gerry Carroll came in a distant second in the contest with 6,194 votes.

The DUP’s Frank McCoubrey secured 5,220 votes, the SDLP’s Paul Doherty 2,985, the Alliance Party’s Donnamarie Higgins 1,882 and Aontu’s Monica Digney 1,635.

– Upper Bann

The DUP have had a triumphant victory in Upper Bann as newcomer Carla Lockhart secures her former colleague’s seat.

Former DUP MP for the area since 2005, David Simpson stood down and was replaced with 34-year-old Ms Lockhart who has been an MLA for Upper Bann since the 2016 election.

Ms Lockhart pipped opposition rival Sinn Fein’s John O’Dowd to top the poll with 20,501 to Mr O’Dowd’s 12,291, who also came second to the DUP in 2017.

Speaking after her victory, Ms Lockhart thanked God and her predecessor who she said she will lean on for guidance in the times ahead.

“I am extremely humbled that 20,501 people put their trust in me as their DUP MP for Upper Bann,” she said.

“I ran a positive campaign while others sought to dig from the sidelines, I campaigned on a record of delivery for Upper Bann. I stand on my record of delivery and the people of Upper Bann embraced that.

“To my family, who see me on good and bad days, and I want to thank them for their prayers on my political journey.”

She went on to thank her baby boy Charlie: “I believe this will make me a better person and it’s for his future for all our children and grandchildren going forward.

“I will represent everyone to the best of my ability.”

Running against Ms Lockhart in the seat that was once held by UUP leader Sir David Trimble, was Doug Beattie from the UUP, long-time SDLP representative Dolores Kelly, and the Alliance Party’s Eoin Tennyson.

– South Belfast

The new MP for South Belfast has praised a pro-Remain voting agreement between parties as “bearing fruit” across Northern Ireland.

It had been expected to be a tight race between Claire Hanna of the SDLP and the DUP incumbent Emma Little-Pengelly, but when the results were confirmed it emerged that the gap was over 15,000 votes.

Ms Hanna topped the poll with 27,079 votes ahead of Ms Little-Pengelly with 11,678 votes.

Both Sinn Fein and the Green Party took the decision not to run candidates in South Belfast, instead backing Ms Hanna on a pro-Remain platform.

Ms Hanna paid tribute to Ms Little-Pengelly, saying her hard work and dedication to the constituency “had never been in doubt”.

She also paid tribute to Green Party leader Clare Bailey for her decision to back her, saying the pro Remain arrangements “was clearly a move that had borne fruit across Northern Ireland in the seats that have been gained”.

“We know there is no good form of Brexit, we have many, many challenges ahead of us but we do know that the relationships that we have to protect within Northern Ireland and on an east west basis and north south basis have to be nurtured,” she said.

“We’ll have to do that at Westminster and hopefully we can do it in a restored executive.”

She said her party was committed to restoring powersharing at Stormont when negotiations resume next week.

“People just want this over, they know we need devolution to protect us and I hope that’s a message that will be heard loudly and clearly in the talks.”

Ms Little-Pengelly congratulated Ms Hanna before thanking her own DUP team and commenting: “We knew things were going to be very challenging for us in South Belfast in a constituency with 33,000 people voted remain at a time when Brexit has not been resolved one way or another.

“It was always going to be a difficult battle, with Sinn Fein and the Green Party not standing that battle became even more difficult”.

Turnout was 67.91%.

– North Antrim

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Ian Paisley comfortably retained his seat (Niall Carson/PA)

The DUP’s Ian Paisley has safely regained his seat in North Antrim with over 47% of the vote.

It is a seat he has held since 2010, having succeeded his late father, the Reverend Ian Paisley, who was the MP from 1970 until his retirement.

It was always going to be a safe bet for Mr Paisley, despite the fact his share is down from 58.9% in the 2017 General Election.

In 2018 the MP survived a recall petition after he was suspended from Parliament amid controversy surrounding two holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government. The petition needed signatures from 10% of constituents to force a by-election.

Commenting on the fact it had been a tricky year for him, he said: “Everything was done in the wider media to try and undermine me, but the electorate of North Antrim are incredibly faithful people. The important thing is that the constituency gets things delivered for them.”

With a majority of over 12,000 votes, Mr Paisley’s nearest rival Robin Swann of the UUP managed to poll 8,139 votes.

As former party leader, the Ulster Unionists had selected one of their most high-profile names to challenge Mr Paisley.

There were likely to have been two big issues on voters’ minds in North Antrim – it had the biggest Brexit vote of any Northern Irish constituency, while it has also suffered a series of devastating job losses in recent years.

The Alliance Party increased their share of the vote by 8.5%.

Turnout in North Antrim was 57.5%.

– East Antrim

DUP veteran Sammy Wilson has successfully defended his East Antrim seat with a reduced majority.

He held one of the party’s safest seats going into this year’s General Election, but saw his vote share tumble from 21,873 in 2017 to 16,871.

“This is not a victory for Sammy Wilson, it is a victory for the party which I represent, for the many people to whom I owe an awful lot, the staff in my office who deal with constituents on a day-to-day basis, the Assembly members who despite the fact Sinn Fein keep them out of the Assembly work hard in the constituency for their constituents on a day-to-day basis and all the councillors work on the ground,” he said.

Mr Wilson went on to urge the restoration of the Assembly.

“I pledge that in the forthcoming session of Parliament that first of all during that time as a party we will do our best to restore the Assembly so that decisions can be made, and if Sinn Fein’s intransigence in locking the doors of Stormont to stop good things happening to Northern Ireland continues, then we say to the British Government either bring in direct rule or change the rules to keep the shirkers out and the workers in.”

He paid tribute to his party colleagues Nigel Dodds and Emma Little-Pengelly who lost their Westminster seats, saying they have done “sterling work for Northern Ireland”.

The newly returned MP said although some may believe with reduced numbers and a larger Conservative Party majority, they have lost their influence at Westminster, they will urge the Government to “get a deal which gets us out (of the European Union) and gets the whole of the United Kingdom out including Northern Ireland”.

“I pledge myself and the MPs from the DUP who will go to Westminster to make sure that the voice of the people in Northern Ireland is heard at Westminster.”

East Antrim was a race that saw a disappointing result for Ulster Unionist Party leader Steve Aiken who finished in third place with 5,475 votes, well behind the Alliance Party’s Danny Donnelly who got 10,165 votes – a doubling of the vote share which his party received in 2017.

– East Belfast

Gavin Robinson urged politicians to get Northern Ireland moving again after fending off the Alliance surge to retain his East Belfast seat.

Alliance leader Naomi Long fell short in her bid to overturn the DUP MP’s 8,000 majority, though she did reduce it significantly, to 1,819.

Mr Robinson, who received 20,874 votes, said feedback from voters on the canvas made it clear that the public wanted Stormont back up and running.

“As a party on the doors across the constituency and across the province our message of getting Northern Ireland moving again has resonated,” he said.

“That is our challenge, be it at Westminster, at Stormont, across this province – we have a job of work to do.

“Let’s get on, let’s get Northern Ireland moving forward again – let’s do it.”

Mrs Long, who won the seat in sensational fashion in 2010 when she defeated the then DUP Stormont first minister Peter Robinson, was in upbeat mood despite the defeat.

The sitting MEP, who celebrated her birthday on Friday, said she was buoyed by Alliance’s victory in the neighbouring constituency of North Down, where deputy leader Stephen Farry deprived the DUP of a key target seat.

“I want to thank Stephen Farry in North Down for giving me one of the best birthday presents I have ever had,” she joked.

Ulster Unionist candidate Carl McClean trailed in a distant last in the three way contest with 2,516 votes.

– South Down

The people of South Down have stood up against the “catastrophe” of Brexit, returning Sinn Fein MP Chris Hazzard said.

Mr Hazzard retained the seat he first wrested from the SDLP two years ago.

While his 2,446 majority from 2017 was reduced slightly – to 1,620 – it was not a seat he ever appeared likely to lose during the campaign.

The Sinn Fein victory in the 2017 election ended the SDLP’s 30-year stronghold on the seat.

With the constituency on the Irish border, Brexit unsurprisingly dominated the campaign.

Mr Hazzard, who won with 16,137 votes, told cheering supporters in the count centre in Belfast that local people had once again demonstrated their opposition to the EU exit at the ballot box.

“I think what we have seen with the politics of South Down people obviously in the light of the Brexit catastrophe they have stood up and put the interests of the people of South Down and Ireland to the fore,” he said.

Mr Hazzard also used his victory speech to pay tribute to his party colleague John Finucane, after he dethroned DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds in North Belfast.

“We have been caught up in momentous occasions tonight, with John Finucane making history in becoming the MP for North Belfast,” he said.

SDLP candidate Michael Savage made a respectable tilt at regaining the seat, but fell short with 14,517 votes.

The DUP’s Glyn Hanna received 7,619; Patrick Brown from the Alliance Party 6,916; the UUP’s Jill Macauley 3,307 and Aontu’s Paul Brady 1,266.

– Lagan Valley

In an unsurprising victory, the DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson was comfortably returned as a MP for the Lagan Valley constituency with 19,586 votes in a seat he had held since 1997.

Donaldson commiserated with DUP colleagues who lost their seats but said that, while the party had “suffered some reversals”, it remained the largest in Northern Ireland, in terms of seats and vote share.

He said the electorate had delivered a clear message during the campaign – that they want Stormont restored.

“I think the people of Northern Ireland are giving us a very clear message, to all the political parties, that they want us to get back around the table and agree to restore our devolved government and get Stormont working again,” he said.

“And we recognise that and on Monday when the parties convene, my party will be there to take their place and work with the others to try to find agreement.

“It would be the best Christmas present for the people of Northern Ireland if we can deliver that agreement and get Stormont restored, we desperately need it, the people want it and they demand and we must deliver it.”

The Alliance Party saw a surge, with its candidate, Sorcha Eastwood, polling 13,000 votes – up from 5,000 in 2017 – but it was not enough to unseat Mr Donaldson.

Ms Eastwood said the party ran a progressive campaign that was strongly endorsed by the people of Lagan Valley and it wants to build on the surge in the future.

When Sinn Fein candidate Garry McCleave spoke of the possibility of a united Ireland, there were heckles of “You’re living in dreamland” and “Never, never, never” from some unionist supporters present.

– South Antrim

The DUP’s Paul Girvan was comfortably returned as MP for the South Antrim constituency with 15,149 votes.

The UUP’s Danny Kinahan, a prominent Remainer, was aiming to make a comeback after returning to contest the seat he lost two years ago.

He polled 12,460 votes.

While Mr Kinahan reduced the 3,208 majority he lost by in 2017, a return to the green benches at Westminster proved beyond him.

Amid loud cheers in the Magherafelt count centre, Mr Girvan said he was very pleased with the result.

“I am very honoured to have been given the opportunity to represent South Antrim yet again in Westminster,” he said.

Mr Girvan paraphrased Churchill to praise his election team.

“Never was so much done by so few for so little,” he joked.

The Alliance surge was also seen in South Antrim, with the party’s John Blair receiving 8,190 votes – more than double the Alliance total in 2017.

Sinn Fein’s Declan Kearney received 4,887 votes while the SDLP’s Roisin Lynch got 2,288.

– Newry & Armagh

Irish unity is no longer just an aspiration, re-elected Newry and Armagh MP Mickey Brady has insisted.

Sinn Fein’s Mr Brady saw his majority reduced from more than 12,000 but he still eased to victory with 20,287 votes, a 9,287 majority over the DUP’s William Irwin.

The constituency was the seat of former SDLP leader Seamus Mallon but is now considered a safe Sinn Fein hold.

In a constituency that voted strongly to remain, Mr Brady used his speech to say Brexit “is a non-runner” and that the time has come for a united Ireland.

“Newry and Armagh had spoken, Brexit has been rejected,” he said.

“The remain parties are in the ascendancy. Brexit as far as we’re concerned is a non-runner.

“And as far as I am concerned I will work very, very hard to ensure that the people of Newry and Armagh constituency have a bright and positive future, and indeed all the people of this island.

“Unity is no longer an aspiration – it is a project.”

The SDLP’s Peter Byrne received 9,449 votes; Alliance’s Jackie Coade 4,211; the UUP’s Sam Nicholson 4,204 and Martin Kelly from Aontu 1,628.

– Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Sinn Fein’s Michelle Gildernew has retained her Fermanagh and South Tyrone seat by a narrow margin of 57 votes.

She went head-to-head with Ulster Unionist candidate Tom Elliott after the DUP stood aside, allowing Mr Elliott to try and win back the seat he held from 2015 until 2017.

A recount was requested by the unionist camp when it emerged that Ms Gildernew was edging ahead by around 63 votes.

The border constituency and home of DUP leader Arlene Foster is where Bobby Sands was elected in 1981.

The turnout for Fermanagh and South Tyrone was 70.13%, with a total of 51,087 votes polled.

Speaking after her win, Ms Gildernew said: “We have many issues relating to this constituency, not least with the news coming from London.

“We are likely to see an increase in the number of years that our constituents have Tory austerity and that’s an awful pity because as we know food poverty has increased, we have more people using food banks, there are a lot of outstanding issues.

“We have negotiations starting next week and we know there is a lot of work to be done here to make politics work.

“We won’t be found wanting in that respect as always and we will be ready to negotiate.

“This election was called because of Brexit, 59% of people in this constituency to remain, and unfortunately it looks like things are going to happen outside of our control that we can’t stop.

“The people of Ireland are ready to take on a new challenge.”

Mr Elliott, who polled 21,929 votes, thanked all his supporters and those who voted for him, including people from the nationalist background.

He added: “I was hoping to build a better future for Fermanagh and South Tyrone. I would still hope to be a part of building a better future in Fermanagh and South Tyrone as I think there is a lot of work to be done

“I am certainly prepared to be that community activist, even if I am not elected, I will still work for the community.”

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