Belfast Telegraph

General Election 2019

South Antrim: DUP's Paul Girvan holds off Ulster Unionist challenge to retain seat

  • Eligible electorate: 71,711
  • Votes polled: 43,188
  • Valid votes: 42,974
  • Turnout: 60.23%
  • Majority: 2,689
Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

South Antrim’s returning MP Paul Girvan said Northern Ireland needs a “fair crack of the whip” in relation to Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal following his election.

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The DUP representative regained the seat he won in 2017 after seeing off the challenge from the Ulster Unionist Party’s Danny Kinahan, who was expected to pose a significant fight.

In the end Mr Girvan was comfortably returned by the electorate with a 2,689 majority.

Mr Kinahan, who lost his voice because of the freezer like conditions in the Magherafelt count centre, expressed his disappointment as he believed unionism needed different representation in Westminster.

Speaking immediately after his election, Mr Girvan said he was “honoured and humbled” after hearing the result and outlined his aims for the future.

“I can only thank the good people of South Antrim who came out and gave me that endorsement to go forward,” he beamed.

“It’s humbling to have that and it’s also an awesome task to ensure that I do carry out that function to the best of my ability.

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“The challenges we have going forward is to ensure that Northern Ireland gets a fair crack of the whip in relation to where we stand in relation to this Brexit issue.”

Mr Girvan also said it was vital that Northern Ireland receives adequate funding for health and education to deal with the current issues and not just cover them with a “sticking patch”.

“We do need to make the reforms that are going to bring forward a sustainable future for our health service in particular,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.

“There might well be some pain but that pain is not to be taken out on those who are on the front line delivering that service.

“We need to look at the [health staff] pay parity issue, that’s vitally important and it’s an issue we got on the doors.

“We also got the frustration from the general public over there being no Assembly.

“Either we get the Assembly up and going and if we don’t get it going we need to have some mechanism to get decisions made and if that means direct rule then that’s the case.”

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th December 2019 General Election 2019 - Election count at Meadowbank Sports Arena, Magherafelt for Newry & Armagh, South Antrim, North Antrim, Upper Bann, East Londonderry, Foyle, Lagan Valley and Mid Ulster. The DUPÕs Paul Girvan(left) is returned as MP for South Antrim. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.

Commenting on his campaign, Mr Girvan added that the festive period was the “wrong time” of the year to hold an election.

“It was extremely difficult to get round all of the doors during the daylight hours and people locked themselves in their homes at six o’clock at night,” he said.

“We realised that and it made it very difficult to contact everybody. We would have liked to have spoken to more people. It was ensuring that we got the area covered.”

A frustrated Mr Kinahan reflected on the health crisis in Northern Ireland and stated that “so many people are suffering” and yet “somehow we reward” Sinn Fein and the DUP.

“I’m happy with the turnout but very disappointed because we needed to have different voices at Westminster, particularly from the DUP, and we needed to do something about Boris Johnson’s deal which is going to devastate Northern Ireland from the unionist point of view,” he said.

“We desperately needed to have influence to get Stormont working but most importantly to help nurses, health staff and our education workers.

“I will always try my hardest to work for everyone and we have got to try and find a new way which isn't green and orange.”

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