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DUP's Frew tops North Antrim poll

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The DUP's Mervyn Storey and Paul Frew in North Antrim at the count centre in Ballymena, Co Antrim

The DUP's Mervyn Storey and Paul Frew in North Antrim at the count centre in Ballymena, Co Antrim

The DUP's Mervyn Storey and Paul Frew in North Antrim at the count centre in Ballymena, Co Antrim

Ian Paisley Jr's replacement on the Stormont Assembly has topped the poll in North Antrim.

Paul Frew (DUP) secured 6,581 first preference votes to secure his Assembly return, followed by Sinn Fein's Daithi McKay and the DUP's Mervyn Storey.

Three seats are left to fill in the constituency amid speculation that Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister could secure the party's first seat in the power-sharing executive.

The hardline unionist candidate quit the DUP in 2007 in opposition to power-sharing with Sinn Fein.

Mr Allister won 4,061 first preference votes - 1,699 short of the quota needed to get elected, leaving him to rely on transfers.

Mr Frew replaced Mr Paisley Jr on the Northern Ireland Assembly after the latter was elected an MP.

In the 2007 election the DUP topped the poll with the Rev Ian Paisley taking 7,716 first preference votes, while Ian Jr came in third. But for the first time in 40 years there was no Paisley standing in North Antrim.

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In the 2007 poll the DUP secured three seats, with one each for the UUP, SDLP and Sinn Fein.

But with the emergence of Mr Allister as a possible contender it has been speculated the final seat in the constituency could be a battle between the UUP and the SDLP's Declan O'Loan, husband of former police ombudsman Nuala O'Loan.

Turnout in the constituency was almost 55% - down from 61% in 2007. Counting has been adjourned for the night and will resume on Saturday morning.


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