DUP and SF tighten grip on Stormont
DUP and SF tighten grip on Stormont

Sinn Fein and the DUP are still polling strongly as counting draws to a close on the first day of the election results in the north of Ireland.

So far, 35 out of 108 assembly members have been elected. The DUP has 15 seats, Sinn Fein has 13, while the other main parties have two apiece. Just Fermanagh/South Tyrone has yet declare a first count.

“It appears at this stage that the electorate are charging Sinn Fein and the DUP to take this vitally important process forward for another four years,” Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein told Irish state-run broadcaster RTE.

Frustration among journalists at the slow pace of the count process has reached extreme levels, and a number of politicians have joined in to condemn the extraordinarily slow pace of the count, despite a significantly reduced turnout of about 52-53%.

With counters in some areas retired for the evening, most constituencies have declared only a first count. While the final results remain a product of guesswork, it is clear the UUP has given up votes and seats to all of the other main parties, particularly the DUP and the Alliance Party.

In Fermanagh/South Tyrone, Sinn Fein’s Michelle Gildernew said the party vote had “come out strongly” and was “looking good” across the North. Thanking those who turned out to vote, she said the party was “very hopeful” of a surprise third seat for the party in the constituency, depending on transfers of second and third preference vote.

In Mid-Ulster, Martin McGuinness topped the poll and was elected on the first count with almost 9,000 votes, and Sinn Fein is set to retain its three seats here. The DUP’s Ian McCrea was also elected with seven thousand votes.

In West Tyrone, Sinn Fein’s Barry McElduff topped the poll with six thousand votes and was elected alongside Pat Doherty on the first count. Michaela Boyle is set to take the third seat for the party here, and the SDLP is set to make a gain from an independent.

In North Antrim, Sinn Fein’s Daithi McKay and two DUP candidates were elected on first count, each receiving over 6,000 votes each. Jim Allister of the TUV is in fourth place with 4,061 votes, but was not elected on first count.

In north Belfast, Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly and DUP’s Nelson McCausland were elected on the first count. The DUP are in with a strong chance of taking a seat from the UUP’s Fred Cobain here.

In South Belfast, Alliance’s Anna Lo has topped the poll with 6,390 votes and is the only person to be elected on the first count, with Sinn Fein’s Alex Maskey well placed to hold his seat.

In West Belfast, Mr Maskey’s brother Paul topped the poll and Sinn Fein’s Jennifer McCann was also elected on the first count, with over 5,000 votes each. Sinn Fein are poised to retain their five-strong representation here despite the absence of party leader Gerry Adams.

In South Down, the SDLP’s Margaret Ritchie was elected on the first count, with Sinn Fein’s Caitriona Ruane just a handful of votes short of a quota and elected on the second count.

In South Antrim, the DUP’s Trevor Clarke and Paul Girvan and Sinn Fein’s Mitchel McLaughlin were all elected on the first count.

In Derry [Foyle], the DUP topped the poll, and the SDLP appear to be in a desperate battle to hold on to their third seat from the Sinn Fein challenge.

The early results indicate “the parties that seem to be doing well are DUP, Sinn Fein and the Alliance Party,” First Minister Peter Robinson, head of the Democratic Unionist Party told BBC television.

“There is no coincidence that these are the parties working together in the executive,” Robinson said. “There is no real opposition to what we are doing”, he added, referring to the SDLP and the UUP, who are also part of the executive.

The following are the latest overall results:

Party Seats % 1st Pref.

DUP 15 30.4%
SF 13 25.9%
SDLP 2 14.6%
UUP 2 12.7%
All 3 8.2%
Others 0 5.7%
TUV 0 2.5%

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