10/05/2005

DUP and SF repeat Westminster election success

As counting in Northern Ireland’s council elections proceeded today, the DUP has virtually repeated its Westminster performance by strengthening its hand in local government.

Ian Paisley’s party increased its number of seats with 182 councillors being elected, up 52 on 2001 election figures with a near 30% share of the vote. This compares to nearest rivals Sinn Fein who won 126 seats, up 18 on 2001 with a 23% share of the vote.

Mirroring its catastrophic loses in the Westminster election the Ulster Unionist Party won 115 seats, down 40 with 18% share of the vote. However, the UUP was still ahead of the SDLP who won 101 seats, down 16 with just over 17% share of the vote.

The big talking points of this year’s local council elections have been the loss of Sinn Fein’s only councillor in the Pottinger area to Alliance. This is attributed to a knock-on effect of the imbroglio over the murder of Robert McCartney earlier this year.

Another notable loss is the demise of a former MP for Fermanagh & South Tyrone, Ken Maginnis. Lord Maginnis lost his seat on Dungannon District Council where he had served for 20 years.

In Derry, Sinn Fein Councillor Gerry O'hEara, who is currently serving as mayor, has lost his seat after 16 years. He will remain as mayor until Derry City Council meets later this month.

The SDLP with a vote diminished by several percentage points has struggled to hold seats, while the Alliance party has clung on to its vote share to gain additional local council seats.

The overall turnout for the council elections, which saw voting for Northern Ireland's 582 local council seats in 26 areas, was around 63%.

(MB/SP)

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