Election 2016: Middleton defends Foyle seat for DUP

Successful DUP candidate Gary Middleton celebrates his election with party colleagues and supporters
Successful DUP candidate Gary Middleton celebrates his election with party colleagues and supporters

The DUP claimed the first seat in the Foyle constituency with Gary Middleton retaining the seat for the party.

Mr Middleton, who replaced former MLA Maurice Devenney after he left the Assembly, defended the seat for the party despite facing opposition from two other unionists.

It was the first time in several elections that the DUP faced opposition in Foyle from within the unionist camp. However, after the elimination of the UUP’s Julia Kee and Mr Devenney, who departed the DUP in acrimonious circumstances earlier this year and who contested the election as an independent unionist, Mr Middleton emerged victorious.

His final tally was 6,641 after he picked up +1,869 following the sharing out of Miss Kee’s and Mr Devenney’s transfers. The quota to be elected is 5,672.

The next stage of the election will see Mr Middleton’s vote divided up amongst the remaining candidates.

Meanwhile, the much mooted battle for the hearts and minds of nationalists in the city turned out to be a disappointment for both the SDLP and Sinn Fein.

Prior to the election the SDLP held the whip-hand in the constituency with three MLAs. The hope of retaining that status in one of the party’s last remaining citadels was in tatters.

Whilst leader Colum Eastwood and Mark H Durkan are certain to be elected the third candidate Gerard Diver was on course for elimination.

With the return of Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness to his home turf Sinn Fein made an ebullient attempt to wrest the mantle of nationalist primacy from the SDLP.

Last night, however, Mr McGuinness conceded that they would not achieve three seats but instead retain their two.

Those two seats look set to be filled by Mr McGuinness and Raymond McCartney after their colleague Maeve McLaughlin was eliminated.

A major factor of disruption for the two nationalist parties is the strong likelihood that veteran activist and journalist Eamonn McCann will make it across the electoral line.

Standing for the People Before Profit Alliance and now 73-years-old, Mr McCann first contested elections in Northern Ireland an amazing 50 years ago.

Counting is expected to resume at 9am on Saturday and it is hoped all six seats will have been decided by late afternoon.

FOYLE CONSTITUENCY (figures indicate first preference votes)

• Kathleen Bradley (Ind) 902

• Maurice Devenney (Ind)1,173

• Gerard Diver (SDLP) 2,700

• Alan Dunlop (Con)36

• Mark H Durkan (SDLP) 4,197

• Colum Eastwood (SDLP) 5,000

• Mary Hassan (Green)157

• Julia Kee (UUP)1,420

• John Lindsay (Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol) 259

• Eamonn McCann (People Before Profit Alliance)4,176

• Raymond McCartney (SF) 3,198

• Chris McCaw (Alliance)238

• Anne McCloskey (Ind)3,410

• Martin McGuinness (SF) 5,037

• Maeve McLaughlin (SF) 3,062

• Gary Middleton (DUP) Elected 4,737

TURNOUT: 56.0027%