Belfast Telegraph

Independent McCluskey in call for change after Erne East win

By Anton McCabe

It was the day of the independent and the smaller party at the count for Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.

It was also a good day for unionists, and a day of surprising turns.

Sinn Fein's Annmarie Donnelly took a seat in the West Tyrone area, knocking out her husband, sitting councillor Frankie.

Veteran Sinn Fein councillor Brian McCaffrey lost his seat in Erne East after 29 years as a councillor. Former Sinn Fein Assembly member Gerry McHugh only polled 174 votes for Aontu in Erne East, and was the first candidate eliminated.

Independent John McCluskey was elected on the first count in Erne East.

"It's a vote for change," Mr McCluskey said.

"It's a vote of no confidence in the political establishment."

Unionists topped the poll in predominantly nationalist West Tyrone, Erne East and Erne West, as well as in predominantly unionist Erne North.

Ulster Unionist Alex Baird said he was delighted he topped the poll in Erne West.

At 10pm last night, 22 of 40 councillors had been elected: eight Sinn Fein, five UUP, four SDLP, three DUP and two Independents. Tally figures indicate strong votes for independent Emmet McAleer in Mid-Tyrone, Alliance's Stephen Donnelly in Omagh Town, and Socialist Donal O'Cofaigh in Enniskillen.

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