Belfast Telegraph

General Election 2019

South Belfast proved to be a hard seat for DUP to hold

Emma Little-Pengelly
Emma Little-Pengelly

By John Breslin

Emma Little-Pengelly, the former MP for South Belfast, was remaining relatively quiet yesterday following the resounding victory of her SDLP rival.

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But the DUP candidate did take to Twitter to congratulate Claire Hanna "on her big result".

The SDLP candidate won by more than 15,000 votes.

"It was such a privilege to serve as Member of Parliament for South Belfast," Ms Little-Pengelly wrote.

Following the closure of the polls on Thursday night, she wrote: "This was always going to be a huge battle with Sinn Fein pulling out of South Belfast & Brexit not resolved."

Ms Hanna, who was campaigning strongly on a Remain platform, managed to secure approximately 7,000 more votes than the SDLP, Sinn Fein and Green Party combined total in the last election.

Following the Brexit vote, Ms Little-Pengelly managed to take the seat from Alasdair McDonnell in the last election with 13,299 votes and a margin of just under 2,000.

It was the first time the DUP had taken the seat. Her victory was secured because of a split in the vote across the various Remain parties. But it was always going to be a big ask to defend the seat after Sinn Fein and the Green Party decided not to contest for the seat.

Nearly 70% of people in South Belfast voted to Remain in the EU in June 2016.

Ms Little-Pengelly, originally from Markethill and a one time adviser to Dr Ian Paisley, was co-opted in 2015 to replace Jimmy Spratt as an MLA for Belfast South.

The 39-year-old briefly served as a junior minister but lost her assembly seat in 2017 after the number of seats in Belfast South was reduced from six to five.

Prior to serving as an MLA, Ms Little-Pengelly, a barrister who studied at Queen's University, Belfast, was also a special adviser in the office of the First Minister.

She is also one of the party's spokespersons on victims' issues.

She is married to Richard Pengelly, the permanent secretary at the Department of Health.

John Finucane at the General Election count in Belfast on December 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
John Finucane at the General Election count in Belfast on December 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Nigel Dodds during the General Election count in Belfast on December 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
SDLP's Claire Hanna wins a seat in South Belfast at the General Election Count at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast during the Early hours of Friday morning. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Emma Pengelly and Arlene Foster during the General Election count in Belfast on December 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood is elected MP (Niall Carson/PA)
Sinn Fein's Elisha McCallion pictured at the count centre in Meadowbank Sports Arena, Magherafelt. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
Stephen Farry of the Alliance Party with party leader Naomi Long after he won the North Down constituency in the UK General Election at the Aurora Aquatic and Leisure Complex, Bangor, Northern Ireland. Michael Cooper/PA Wire
Alex Easton, DUP pictured at the count centre in Bangor. Photo by Brian Little / Press Eye
Gavin Robinson with his wife Lindsey and party leader Arlene Foster pictured at the count centre. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Naomi Long during the General Election count in Belfast on December 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Michelle O'Neill and Paul Maskey pictured at the count centre. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Election count at Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast for Belfast East, Belfast South, Belfast West, Belfast North, East Antrim & South Down. Sammy Wilson pictured at the count centre. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Steve Aiken pictured at the count centre. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
The DUP’s Gregory Campbell is returned s MP for East Londonderry. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew pictured with Michelle ONeill at the count centre in Omagh after winning the Fermanagh and South Tyrone seat. Photo by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
UUP Tom Elliott pictured at the count centre in Omagh. Photo by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has held his seat in Lagan Valley pictured at the count centre in Meadowbank Sports Arena, Magherafelt. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
Sinn Féin Francie Molloy is returned as MP for Mid Ulster. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
Sinn Fein's Mickey Brady(centre) is returned as MP for Newry and Armagh. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
The DUP's Ian Paisley (left) is returned as MP for North Antrim. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
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.
Chris Hassard, centre, pictured at the count centre. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th December 2019 - General Election 2019 - Election count at Aurora Leisure Complex, Bangor for Strangford and North Down. Jim Shannon, DUP with his mother Mona and wife Sandra after being elected in Strangford. Photo by Brian LittleÊ / Press Eye
The DUP's Carla Lockhart is returned as MP for Upper Bann and is pictured with her baby boy Charlie. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
Sinn Fein's Orfhlaith Begley pictured after she won her seat back in West Tyrone Photo by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.

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