Hearty tops the polls in Slieve Gullion ward

May 26, 2014

A less than anticipated turnout of just 52% of the voting population took to the polls across Northern Ireland last Thursday to elect 462 candidates and three European Parliament representatives. The election heralded 26 councils being reduced to 11 in April 2015 and represented a milestone in the reform of local government in Northern Ireland, which will see the new “super councils” take over with enhanced powers and more responsibilities.

The count for Northern Ireland’s council seats finished overnight on Saturday and revealed few surprises – with Sinn Fein and the DUP remaining as the two largest parties.  Sinn Fein emerged as the biggest party in Northern Ireland but the DUP claimed the greater number of council seats. The republican party claimed 24.1% of all first preference votes with the DUP  on 23.1%.

The Newry, Mourne and Down Council results saw nationalists holding the balance of power with 28 seats shared equally between Sinn Fein and the SDLP and 4 seats each going to the DUP and other independent parties.  The UUP gained 3 seats on the new council while the Alliance Party took 2.

Locally, there were celebrations in the Slieve Gullion ward as Crossmaglen councillor, Terry Hearty topped the polls with 19% of the vote. In a result which was described by Sinn Fein MP for Newry Armagh Conor Murphy as “a resounding endorsement of his work record to date”, the veteran councillor, returning for his fourth term, received a whopping 2135 first preference votes. His party colleagues Mickey Larkin and new candidate Roisin Mulgrew secured their seats with 1278 and 1243 first preference votes respectively, with Barra O’Muiri also gaining a seat with 1218 first preference votes. Disappointingly, new candidate Daire Hughes missed out on a seat by just a handful of votes.

The SDLP’s Geraldine Donnelly retained her seat in the Slieve Gullion area with 1516 first preference votes with new candidate Kate Loughran winning the party’s second seat with 1078 first preference votes. The UUP’s David Taylor took the only seat for his party with 1243 first preference votes.

In Newry, Sinn Fein won 3 seats with former Mayor, Sinn Fein Councillor Charlie Casey taking the lion’s share of the ballot with 1693 first preference votes.  He was closely followed by his party colleague and new Sinn Fein candidate, Liz Kimmins who gained an impressive 1565 first preference votes.  Returning Sinn Fein Councillor, Valerie Harte, also maintained her seat with 1300 first preference votes, while Independent candidate Davy Hyland won his seat with 1045 first preference votes, after what he described as a “David versus Goliath” election battle. The SDLP’s new candidates, Gary Stokes and Kevin McAteer both won seats with 938 and 629 first preference votes respectively.

The 11 new councils will operate in shadow form until 1st April 2015, with the current 26 councils existing in parallel until then. The 10 Euro candidates hoping to book one of three tickets to Brussels will have to wait until later today (Monday) to find out their fate.

“A monumental victory for Sinn Fein” – Conor Murphy

MP for Newry Armagh Conor Murphy has described the local government election results as a monumental victory for Sinn Féin and for the people of Ireland.

Speaking from the count centre in Newry Sports Centre Conor Murphy said;

“Results across Ireland have demonstrated that the people support Sinn Féin’s aim of a new Ireland where all of the people are treated equally.

“There is no doubt that this has been a monumental few days for Sinn Féin but more importantly this election has seen the Irish people overwhelmingly demanding change and indicating in huge numbers that they believe Sinn Féin is the political party to lead that change.

“As a Sinn Féin activist I am delighted that all of the hard work over the past year has paid off and Sinn Féin is now rightly recognised as the opposition to the current government.”

Commenting on the results locally Mr Murphy said,

“Sinn Féin has had a very successful local election, we have returned 14 councillors to Newry Mourne and Down Council and 8 councillors to Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Councils.  Each of these individuals are highly skilled and enthusiastic to deliver for ordinary people.

“In Slieve Gullion we have elected Terry Hearty, Mickey Larkin, Barra Ó Muirí and Roisin Mulgrew.  Unfortunately Dáire Hughes missed out by a handful of votes on this occasion however he remains a fantastic Sinn Féin representative.

“Across the area Sinn Féin secured in the region of 7,000 first preference votes so clearly people support us.  Terry Hearty received over 2,000 first preference votes, a resounding endorsement of his work record to date.”

Hyland victorious in “David versus Goliath” election battle

Re-elected Independent Councillor Davy Hyland has thanked all those who voted for him in last week’s local council elections and vowed to fully represent all of his constituents over the next four years.

“For me, given the strength of mainstream, heavily financed parties acting under the guise of socialism, my election battle was truly David versus Goliath,” said Mr Hyland,

“Thankfully, the electorate was not duped and social deprivation, unemployment, sectarianism, racism and domestic violence – to name a few – will be challenged in the years to come.

“There is a unified concern within the Newry district and beyond that Republican Socialism has been misrepresented and unchallenged so I, along with other community activists, intend to bring these varied groupings together to create a formidable democratic force to challenge pretenders to the throne.”

Looking forward, Councillor Hyland confidently predicted that the next district elections would see two Independent socialist councillors vying for seats.

SDLP have “strong voice” in new council

Dominic Bradley MLA for Newry and Armagh has said the SDLP will have a strong voice in the new Down, Newry and Mourne Council.

Commenting on the election results which saw the party take 14 seats on the new council – on an equal footing with Sinn Fein, Mr Bradley thanked the voters in the area for their support of the SDLP.

“I am very proud of our election teams who worked very hard throughout the election campaign to get our candidates elected.  My congratulations to our successful candidates who will ensure that there is a strong SDLP voice in the new council.  I look forward to working closely with them.  I thank all of our candidates who worked so hard throughout the campaign to deliver 14 seats.”