Belfast Telegraph

NI Election: Fermanagh and South Tyrone - Arlene Foster stands alone as Morrow loses his long-held seat

The political landscape of Fermanagh and South Tyrone has been dramatically reshaped. The DUP suffered a devastating blow with the loss of one of its longest serving representatives, Lord Morrow.

Party leader Arlene Foster now faces difficult decisions as she returns to the Assembly as a lone DUP ranger in the now Sinn Fein led constituency.

Despite topping the poll, Mrs Foster's votes took a slight dip from last year's election.

Her once soft edges appeared even more hardened as she hit out at the "intimidating" atmosphere at the Omagh count centre.

"We have tricolours thrust about the place, crocodiles walking about. It doesn't surprise me - this is the sort of attitude that prevails in the west of the province to the minority unionist community in Northern Ireland.

"It's sad to see that people talk about respect but they don't practice it."

Earlier in the night, things appeared to be going well for the DUP.

Mrs Foster was giving a live TV interview when her name was called as the first elected.

But it wasn't the party's night and as the realisation they were losing Lord Morrow set in, party supporters and members retreated back to a room which was being exclusively used by the DUP.

Mrs Foster, who has faced major criticism over her handling of the RHI controversy, admitted that the results were "incredibly close" and that she was "devastated" to see Lord Morrow out, adding: "This is an incredibly sad day for me."

Another casualty was the SDLP's Richie McPhillips, who lost his seat only 10 months after he was elected and it was this loss that saw Ulster Unionist Rosemary Barton retain her seat.

Meanwhile, in the Sinn Fein camp the atmosphere was more relaxed and jovial with party members confident from the start that they would see a successful result across the constituency.

Early indications suggested the party had polled well but the three elected candidates, Michelle Gildernew, Sean Lynch and newcomer Jemma Dolan, appeared shocked they had achieved such success.

Their supporters cheered and waved an Irish flag and toy crocodile as they hugged and congratulated the newly elected candidates.

As Mr Lynch was making his victory speech on the podium, Mrs Foster led her loyal band of supporters out of the hall before Mr Lynch shouted Gerry Adams' infamous line: "See you later alligator."

A life-size alligator then made its entrance into the hall and joined in on the Sinn Fein led celebrations which also included party deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald.

The high security at Omagh Leisure Centre was an unusual sight for an election.

It was similar to that seen at an airport with a scanner placed at the entrance and every bag carefully checked over.

While it wasn't the DUP's night, Mrs Foster reiterated that they are still "the largest unionist party" in Northern Ireland.

Full break down

Belfast Telegraph Digital


From Belfast Telegraph