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Sinn Fein's Pat Doherty holds West Tyrone

Sinn Fein's Pat Doherty was re-elected on a substantially increased majority to serve a third term as West Tyrone MP.

In the first overnight count in Omagh in more than 40 years when Bernadette Devlin won the Mid-Ulster seat from the Unionists in April 1969 and became the youngest Member of Parliament in almost 200 years since William Pitt the Younger, Glasgow-born Mr Doherty topped the poll with 18,050 votes, 10,865 votes more than the DUP's Thomas Buchanan.

Following the declaration in a six-cornered fight, the 64-year-old father of five and former party vice-president said: "Our actual vote and percentage both increased and its down to a big team effort from the director of elections, Sean Begley, to the players on the ground.

"Although the poll was down 11 percentage points, I am not surprised with our showing. We had indications that it might be a difficult day of apathy but we fought a good campaign. I'm very proud of the whole team and delighted with how our vote turned out."

The runner-up, Tom Buchanan said: "It's been another good day for the party. I'm going home a happy man, especially after increasing our vote with a reduced poll. We've shown that the party is still building and going from strength to strength.

"And that's despite the fact that Jim Allister requested his supporters in this constituency to vote for the Unionist/Conservative candidate. The TUV have a lot of heart-searching to do after this result to see where they stand politically.

"The DUP in West Tyrone is biting on the heels of Sinn Fein for the Westminster seat and, perhaps, one day we will take it. The party's happy, I'm happy, even though I didn't win the seat."

The turnout was down 11.62% on 2005 when District Council elections were held on the same day. The total votes cast were 37,632 (61.54%) of which 357 were spoilt. And the count was completed within two-and-a-half hours of the polls closing - a record.

Ross Hussey of the UCUN, who finished third, said: "Many people did not get their poll cards and will have stayed away as they thought they needed them to vote. There was apathy out there but I believe I knocked more doors than any politician on the stump."

Ross, with 5,281 votes, out-performed his brother Derek who propped up the rest last time out with 2,981.

Belfast Telegraph


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