SINN Féin president Gerry Adams has claimed that the election of Francie Molloy shows Mid Ulster’s support “for the continuation of the peace process”.
There had been suggestions – which turned out to be incorrect – that a dissident republican candidate would stand in the by-election in an area where republican terror groups are believed to have some small level of support.
Mr Adams said of Mr Molloy taking over from Martin McGuinness as MP: “He’s taking over from one of the best, but I’m sure he will do the party proud as always.
“What is most significant, however, about this result is that it shows that the people of Mid Ulster want to continue to build the peace process and for political representatives to work for the good of the entire community.”
SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell praised his candidate, Patsy McGlone, for increasing SDLP support.
The South Belfast MP and MLA said: “I congratulate Patsy on increasing the SDLP’S vote in the Mid Ulster by-election despite the reduced turnout. This result shows support is steadily growing for the party and its values.
“From the outset the SDLP was upfront and honest about what it would be standing for in the election and were concerned that not all candidates were fully engaged in debating the crucial issues that affect businesses, communities and families.
“While the approach of others in this election has been to treat the electorate with contempt and drag us back to the tribal politics of the past we can be proud of our well-fought election which kept the people of Mid Ulster at the very heart of its campaign.”
Alliance’s candidate Eric Bullick increased his party’s vote – in Alliance’s second-weakest constituency – from 398 to 487, which represented 1.3 per cent of the vote.
He said: “The increase in the Alliance vote shows that the politics of a shared future is growing in support.
“Alliance stood in this election to offer an alternative to the orange and green politics.”