Former DUP stronghold is now TUV's 'heartland', says Allister
TUV party leader Jim Allister claims the Bannside ward of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is now the party's "heartland" after its two candidates there pulled almost 3,000 first-preference votes between them.
The rural area west of Ballymena, which takes in towns such as Cullybackey, was once a DUP stronghold - but no more.
Stewart McDonald topped the poll with 1,504 first-preference votes and he was closely followed home by party colleague Timothy Gaston, who amassed 1,433.
"To top the poll and to have a second man elected as well above the quota is phenomenal success," said Mr Allister. "It has enabled the TUV to turn Bannside, which was once the heartland of another party, into a TUV heartland."
It was a good day, too, for Alliance. Lauren Gray led the way with 1,210 first-preference votes in the Carrick Castle ward, before Geraldine Mulvenna came in first in the Coast Road DEA.
But the DUP did claim two early seats in Carrick Castle and one in the quaintly named Coast Road DEA, with MP Ian Paisley in attendance. The party gained two seats late in the evening in the Bannside DEA through Thomas Gordon and Tommy Nicholl.
UUP leader Robin Swann watched as the party grabbed four seats in the opening three counts, including the final seat in Carrick Castle. Counting is set to resume at 8am on Saturday morning with four DEAs still to be determined.