Independents' day in slow count for Newry councillors
It was a memorable day for independent candidates contesting seats on Newry, Mourne and Down District Council as the frustratingly slow count dragged into the late hours.
Jarlath Tinnelly topped the poll in Crotlieve DEA with 1,651 first-preference votes - more than doubling his tally from 2014 - and Mark Gibbons, a former Sinn Fein candidate, also secured a seat.
"To not only top the poll, but to be the first elected, is incredible," said Mr Tinnelly.
Veteran Warrenpoint SDLP councillor Michael Carr lost his seat of 18 years.
Meanwhile, independent candidate Gavin Malone was hotly tipped to top the poll.
Terry Hearty (SF) topped the poll again in Slieve Gullion DEA with 1,876 first-preference votes as Sinn Fein bagged five of the six seats, with the SDLP's Pete Byrne claiming the sixth.
In Downpatrick, the SDLP's Gareth Sharvin was first past the post with 1,395 first-preference votes with Cadogan Enright (Ind) also elected last night. In the Mournes, the DUP's Glyn Hanna was the poll-topper and his surplus helped Henry Reilly (Ind) and Harold McKee (UUP) over the line early. Laura Devlin (SDLP) was also re-elected - two months after giving birth to baby Polly who joined her each night on canvass.
The Newry count started last night at 11pm, while the DEAs of Rowallane and Slieve Croon begin this morning at 9am.