| 3.2°C Belfast

DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson first home in Lagan Valley safe seat

The DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson romped home with a huge 13,000 majority to return as MP for Lagan Valley for the fifth time.

He took the safe seat with 19,055 votes in the first election result to be announced in Northern Ireland.

Mr Donaldson said it was a "good natured" campaign, after increasing his majority by more than 2,500 from his 2010 win.

Ulster Unionist Alexander Redpath finished second and paid tribute to his DUP opponent on his win. But from early in the night it felt like a foregone conclusion for the 52-year-old seasoned politician, as Mr Donaldson's ballot papers began piling up onto a second table.

Overall turnout was 39,986 - representing 56.19% of the electorate in the constituency.

Young lawyer and councillor Mr Redpath finished second on 6,055 votes. Alliance's Trevor Lunn was next with 5,544. The SDLP's Pat Catney received 2,500 votes, with Ukip's Alan Love on 2,200.

Despite the situation in Britain, Tory candidate Helen Osborne - currently a councillor across the water in Winchester in the south of England - only managed 654 votes. That was fewer than Independent Jonny Orr - a man who once dressed as Darth Vader - who pulled in 756.

It was all smooth sailing for the Lagan Valley count, with ballot boxes landing in the Lagan Valley LeisurePlex shortly after 10pm.

Belfast Telegraph