Hearty and Malone top the poll in Slieve Gullion and Newry DEA’s

May 7, 2019

With the final results of Thursday’s local election announced on Saturday evening, the 2019 ballot proved to be a decisive victory for Sinn Féin locally, the party increasing its seats on Newry Mourne and Down District Council (NMDDC)  by two to 11.

The election was also a massive coup for political newcomer Independent candidate Gavin Malone who topped the poll in Newry DEA (District Electoral Area) with a record-breaking 2,296 first preference votes.

Another new face is Slieve Gullion DEA’s new Sinn Féin councillor Oonagh Magennis who polled 1,622 first preference votes to be elected on the first count.  With a 1,566 quota, Oonagh was joined by party colleagues Terry Hearty – who topped the poll with 1,876 first preferences – and Mickey Larkin who polled 1,646.  The SDLP’s Pete Byrne completed the compliment of candidates elected on the first count, polling strongly with 1,643 first preference votes.

Sinn Fein’s surplus got sitting councillors Barra Ó Muirí (1,351) and Roisin Mulgrew (1,362) over the line, the party winning five seats for the first time in the Slieve Gullion ward.  As a result, sitting SDLP councillor Kate Loughran lost out despite polling 1,059 first preferences.

The seventh Slieve Gullion DEA seat was filled by returning UUP councillor David Taylor who collected 1,287 first preference votes.

Sinn Féin returns five councillors in the Slieve Gullion DEA, increasing its representation by one seat at the expense of the SDLP.

Topping the poll in Slieve Gullion, Sinn Féin’s Terry Hearty said he is delighted with the result and he thanked the people of the area for their support.

Offering his appreciation to his colleagues in the Morris Harvey SF cumann in Crossmaglen for their support, he said: “We’re involved in all the community events in the area and we work hard on the ground.  We have to work even harder to ensure that we get the facilities into the area that we have the proper resources in the area and we want better services.”

Councillor Hearty said the election of a fifth candidate for the party is “a bonus” and congratulated Sinn Féin for managing the vote to ensure “a stronger team” in the area.

Slieve Gullion DEA had the highest turnout of the seven across Newry Mourne and Down District Council – 12,817 from 20,858, representing 61.44% of the eligible electorate casting their ballot; while 10,098 from 19,400 (52.05%) turned out to vote in Newry DEA.

Political newcomer and newly elected Independent councillor Gavin Malone celebrates with supporters. Photos credit: Columba O’Hare

The huge 2,296 first preference votes polled by Independent Gavin Malone in Newry DEA represents more than a fifth of the total vote and prompted jubilation among his supporters when he was announced as the first candidate over the line just before 1.00am on Saturday, as the marathon count in Newry Leisure Centre entered its second day.

Although a newcomer to front line politics, Gavin is well known in the area through his work as a long time community activist.  He resigned his job with NMDDC, after 19 years as an employee, in a bid to secure a council seat that would afford him the opportunity to make changes to improve services and facilities for the people of the greater Newry area.

When he was elected and was found to have polled the biggest percentage ever by an Independent candidate in the city, a delighted Gavin thanked the electorate for the “massive mandate” given to him: “It’s been a fantastic result.  I’m so humbled, so grateful and I’m really looking forward to working with all the issues that people have spoken about,” he said, and he thanked “each and every one” who voted for him.

SDLP councillors Pete Byrne and Michael Savage celebrate with party MLA Justin McNulty and supporters.

The successful candidates claiming the five remaining seats in Newry DEA were announced on Saturday afternoon.  Sinn Féin’s sitting councillors Liz Kimmins (1,374), Charlie Casey (1,230) and Valerie Harte (1,045) were all returned while the party’s newcomer Sarah Jane McAllister (784) lost out. The fifth seat was won by the SDLP’s Michael Savage (1,231), his party colleague Gary Stokes also coming up short, polling (878) first preferences.

Overall, between Slieve Gullion and Newry wards (six seats in each), Sinn Féin has increased its representation on NMDDC to eight seats, with two for the SDLP, and the UUP and Independent with one each.