Belfast Telegraph

Little sympathy for Bell, as Nesbitt keeps low profile


By Allan Preston

Strangford was always going to be interesting, with the inevitable loss of at least two MLAs, and reports of queues at polling stations only added to the drama.

Former DUP MLA Jonathan Bell, who ran as an independent, was the first casualty after a seventh round of counting, having only received 1,794 votes. He didn't show up for the result. Former party colleague Simon Hamilton, who was re-elected, said: "I predicted that his political career would be over and now the people have spoken."

Mike Nesbitt also kept a low profile and left before the declaration of his own win after the seventh count.

Returning Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong was the first candidate elected, but not until the fourth stage of counting.

The SDLP's Joe Boyle, standing for a fifth time, secured his largest ever share of first preference votes (3,045) and received more transfers from Ulster Unionist casualty Philip Smith than the DUP's Peter Weir. He went out in the 11th stage when Mr Weir took the final seat with only 225 more votes. The DUP's Michelle McIlveen was also re-elected.

Belfast Telegraph

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