‘Not a good day for unionism here’

Michelle ONeill pictured after topping the poll in Mid Ulster with 10258 votes.

Michelle ONeill pictured after topping the poll in Mid Ulster with 10258 votes.

‘Bad day for unionism’ in Mid Ulster as Sandra Overend loses seat

All three Sinn Fein candidates were returned as the party’s leader in Northern Ireland, Michelle O’Neill topped the poll with 10,258 first preference votes.

Sandra Overend lost her Mid Ulster seat

Sandra Overend lost her Mid Ulster seat

Meanwhile, the DUP’s sole candidate in the constituency, Keith Buchanan, was also jubilant after polling 9,568 first preference votes, passing the quota on the first count.

But in a blow for unionism in Mid Ulster, UUP candidate Sandra Overend lost her seat, leaving Mr Buchanan as the only unionist representative in the constituency.

Mr Buchanan said he was “delighted” with his win, but added it was “unfortunate” that Mrs Overend has missed out on a seat.

He added: “It has not been a good day for unionism in Mid Ulster.”

Mrs O’Neill’s running mates Linda Dillon and Ian Milne also retained their seats, having been elected at the second stage of counting at the Seven Towers Leisure Centre in Ballymena.

Declaring that a win for Sinn Fein was “a win for all”, Health Minister Mrs O’Neill said: “It’s been great. It’s a fantastic result. Thanks so much to the people of Mid Ulster who have come out, all 26,207 of you who have come out to return a strong Sinn Fein team.

“It sends a very strong message that the electorate were motivated by the message that we have led with over the past number of weeks. People want to stand up for their rights, they want to take a stand for equality and respect.”

The SDLP’s Patsy McGlone grabbed the fifth and final seat last night without reaching the quota.

The turnout in Mid Ulster was 72.38%, a huge rise on last year’s figure of 58.8%.