Newry & Armagh: SF retains three seats with DUP sole unionist

March 6, 2017

Sinn Féin enjoyed a massive surge in the polls in Thursday’s Assembly election with a 3.89 percentage points increase since last May’s election.

In total, the party won 27 seats, just one short of the DUP, which means, for the first time, unionists do not have an overall majority at Stormont.

With a reduction in seats from six to 5 in Newry and Armagh constituency, it was inevitable that one household name would be eliminated and, after more than three decades in political life, it was Ulster Unionist Danny Kennedy who was eliminated on the third count, having polled 7,939 votes, falling more than 1,200 short of the 9,154 quota.

The DUP’s William Irwin managed to hold on to his, and now the sole unionist seat, topping the poll with 9,760 first preference votes, however the day was strongest for nationalist parties with three Sinn Fein and one SDLP candidate elected.

Sinn Fein’s Cathal Boylan was elected on the first count, polling 9,197 first preference votes.  His party colleague Megan Fearon followed with 9,175.

The SDLP’s Justin McNulty retained his seat and insisted that he “wasn’t concerned” even though he “knew it would be tough”.

“The Arlene factor was immense,” he said afterwards, crediting the DUP leader for the upsurge in the nationalist vote.

Sinn Fein’s Conor Murphy stayed ahead of Danny Kennedy with a 1,000-point lead, crossing the line at the third stage with 9,018 votes.

The party has hailed the assembly election as a “watershed” moment with 224,245 votes electing the 27 MLAs – its largest ever return in the north.