09/03/2007

DUP and Sinn Fein leading in Assembly Elections

UPDATE: The Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fein hold the majority of seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly Election.

The DUP and Sinn Fein emerged considerably ahead of the other parties with main losers the UUP dropping 9 seats to retain just 18 seats. The DUP now have 36 members elected, an increase of 6 seats, and Sinn Fein have 28, adding four seats.

Nationalist party the SDLP hold 16 seats - a loss of 2 seats.

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Admas topped the polls in West Belfast, while Dr Ian Paisley topped the poll in North Antrim.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan was elected on the first count at Foyle, however the leader of the UUP Sir Reg Empey had to wait until the third count before he gained the seat in East Belfast.

The cross-community Alliance Party have taken seven seats - a gain of 1 seat - one in South Belfast, with Hong-Kong born Anna Lo making history to become the first Chinese candidate to be elected to a UK devolved Assembly. Alliance Party leader and South Antrim candidate, David Ford also gained a seat in this morning's count.

The Progressive Unionist Party gained a seat in East Belfast, heralding a victory for their leader Dawn Purvis, following the sudden death of David Ervine in January.

Brian Wilson of the Green Party has also gained their first seat in North Down and Independent candidate Dr Kieran Deeney was also elected in West Tyrone. The Carrickmore GP made history in 2003 by topping the poll in his constituency.

Former DUP candidate, independent Paul Berry, who topped the poll during the last election, conceded defeat in Newry and South Armagh.

The UK Unionist Party leader Bob McCartney who stood in six constituencies, lost his seat in North Down where his vote was half that in the previous 2003 election.

The turn-out is understood to be around the same as in the 2003 Assembly Election.

Both British and Irish governments hope the outcome of this election will pave the way for a return to devolution.

A power-sharing executive is due to be formed by 26 March.

(JM/SP)

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