Election 2016: Little change in North Belfast, but alarming drop in UUP vote
Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly has topped the poll in North Belfast, where there was set to be no change in the political balance of the seat, though one of the personalities did change.
The Sinn Fein veteran took 5,695 first preference votes – significantly ahead of party colleague Caral Ni Chuilin who polled 4,009 votes but is on course to be comfortably returned.
The DUP’s Paula Bradley was second, with 4,591 votes, followed by party colleague William Humphrey on 4,105 and the third DUP candidate, Nelson McCausland, on 4,087 votes.
The SDLP former Lord Mayor, Nicola Mallon, took 3,866 votes – enough to secure the seat long held by veteran Alban Maginness who is retiring – with Alliance’s Nuala McAllister next on 2,569.
But the UUP’s Lesley Carroll polled just 1,972 votes – a substantial fall from the figure of 2,758 obtained by Fred Cobain when he lost his seat in 2011.
People Before Profit’s Fiona Ferguson took 1,286 – a strong performance for the fledgling party.
But there was disappointment for the PUP, with leader Billy Hutchinson taking just 1,238 votes.
Despite standing in what has historically been a very divided constituency, there was a respectable showing for the Green candidate, Malachai O’Hara, who took 796 first preference votes.
Ukip’s Ken Boyle was slightly behind him on 751 votes, while John Miller of the TUV was further back on 644 first preferences.
The Northern Ireland Labour Representation Committee’s Abdo Thabeth saw a disappointing return of 127 votes in his bid to put pressure on Labour’s London hierarchy to lift its ban on fielding candidates in Northern Ireland.
And two of the minnows of this election also saw humble results.
Tom Burns, founder of the Common Sense Party, took just 87 votes. But that was ahead of former pornographer Geoff Dowey whose candidature for his Northern Ireland First yielded just 32 votes.
By stage five of the count, seven candidates had been excluded – Mr Burns, Mr, Dowey, Mr Hughes, Mr Miller, Mr Thabeth and Ms Weir.
Although their votes were insufficient to push anyone above the quota of 5,225, the SDLP’s Nicola Mallon was comfortably ahead (with 4,134 votes) of her main rival, Alliance’s Nuala McAllister (with 2,709 votes).
At midnight, the result was announced, confirming that the constituency had elected three DUP MLAs, two Sinn Fein MLAs and one SDLP MLA.
NORTH BELFAST CONSTITUENCY (first preference votes)
• Ken Boyle (UKIP)751
• Paula Jane Bradley (DUP)Elected 4,591
• Tom Burns (Ind)87
• Lesley Carroll (UUP)1,972
• Geoff Dowey (NI First)32
• Fiona Ferguson (People Before Profit Alliance)1,286
• Fra Hughes (Ind)243
• William Humphrey (DUP)Elected 4,105
• Billy Hutchinson (PUP)1,238
• Gerry Kelly (SF)Elected 5,695
• Nichola Mallon (SDLP)Elected 3,866
• Nuala McAllister (SDLP)2,569
• Nelson McCausland (DUP)Elected 4,087
• John Miller (TUV)644
• Carál Ní Chuilín (SF)Elected 4,009
• Malachai O’Hara (Green)796
• Abdo Thabeth (NI Labour Rep Committee)127
• Gemma Weir (Workers Party)476