Fermanagh South Tyrone: Barton elected for UUP

DUP leader Arlene Foster MLA for Fermanagh and South Tyrone speaking at the Omagh count centre as counting continues in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
DUP leader Arlene Foster MLA for Fermanagh and South Tyrone speaking at the Omagh count centre as counting continues in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

The Ulster Unionist candidate Rosemary Barton has been elected in Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Ms Barton, who had been endorsed by the UUP MP Tom Elliott, said she was “absolutely delighted” at her victory.

She will take the seat that had been held by her party colleague Alastair Patterson, who had been co-opted after Neil Somerville, who had himself been co-opted after Tom Elliott.

Mr Patterson was excluded in the last round of transfers.

He and Ms Barton had polled almost an exactly similar first preference tally of 3,010 votes and 3,018 respectively.

The DUP had been far out in front in the constituency, with Arlene Foster, the party leader, comfortably topping the poll on almost 9,000 votes and Lord Morrow in a healthy third place overall on 6,600 votes.

The DUP combined first preference vote was 15,400 votes compared to 6,000 for the UUP, in a constituency in which the latter party was long the dominant unionist grouping.

Ms Barton said: “I look forward to working with the people in Fermanagh South Tyrone and achieving great results for them.”

In another drama, the SDLP’s Richie McPhillips clinched a last seat at stage seven at the expense of John Feely of Sinn Fein.

Thus Sinn Fein’s decision to run four candidates appears to have been a significant mistake, because it would have been easier to get a third elected if they had only run three candidates. The party had 18,847 first preferences, by far the largest party vote in the constituency, but only ended up with twice as many seats as the SDLP.

Yet the SDLP had barely 20% of the Sinn Fein vote – a total of 4,010 ballots cast for its only candidate, Mr McPhillips.

Other candidates from smaller parties did modestly, with only the Traditional Unionist Voice candidate Donald Crawford getting more than 1,000 votes (1,164).

The Green candidate Tanya Jones was next of the small candidates on 897 votes, with Alliance’s Kerri Blyberg trailing on 539 votes.