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Mid Ulster: Michelle O’Neill hails ‘positive day’ after topping the poll

Three Sinn Fein members reach quota

It was an election of no surprises in Mid-Ulster with Sinn Fein leader Michelle O’Neill topping the poll and elected with 10,845 first preference votes.

She was followed quickly past the quota by party colleagues Emma Sheerin and Linda Dillon as Sinn Fein dominated the constituency as expected.

The DUP’s Keith Buchanan was quickly past the quota on Saturday morning and though it took several more counts, SDLP veteran Patsy McGlone was also comfortably returned to his seat on Saturday afternoon.

Speaking immediately after her election the Ms O'Neill said it had been “a very positive day” for her party.

“We did say this was going to be an election about the future. It’s potentially going to be a historic election for many reasons, but people wanted us to talk about how we would work in partnership with others.

“That’s the only way we can achieve more for people here in terms of cost of living or fixing the health service. That’s the message we got on the doors. It’s going to be a positive election.”

It was a brief visit to her home constituency for Ms O’Neill on Friday, who was all smiles as she made her way out of Meadowbank Sports Arena in Magherafelt followed by a media scrum to head to Belfast.

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But she returned on Saturday to say the election result was ushering in a new era.

“This presents us all with an opportunity to re-imagine relationships in this society,” she said.

“That’s on the basis of fairness, equality and social justice.

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“Irrespective of religious, political or social backgrounds my commitment is to make politics work. My commitment is to work through partnership, not division.

“We will work with those who serve other perspectives. We will show respect and we expect to be shown respect in return.

“There is space in this place for everyone,” she continued, and threw down the gauntlet to the DUP to turn up for work on Monday.

“I will provide leadership which is inclusive which celebrates diversity, guarantees rights and equality for those who have been excluded, discriminated against or ignored in the past,” she said.

“People demand co-operation and delivery. The welfare of all people comes first. That’s the reason why, on Monday, we must all turn up. There is an urgency to restore an Executive.

“I will lead my team to Stormont on Monday.”

As counting closed following the fourth count on Friday evening, DUP candidate Keith Buchanan was also just short of the quota, though passed that mark when TUV candidate Glenn Moore was eliminated early on Saturday.

While never in danger himself, he said that as long as unionism stays divided, seats will disappear.

“Unionism as a whole needs to take a long hard look at this election,” he said.

“Unionists need to reflect on what has happened. Has unionism achieved what it wanted to do? No, it hasn’t and that had to change.”

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