At the end of Friday, the first day of counting at the Aurora centre in Bangor, voting trends confirmed that the DUP was on course to be by far the largest party in the new North Down and Ards district council.
Representatives of Peter Robinson’s party are set by the close of counting on Saturday to fall just short of half the 40 seats in the emerging local authority.
In the Holywood and Clandeboye electoral area, 25-year-old Stephen Dunne topped the poll for the DUP and was elected in the first count.
This result endorsed Mr Dunne in the council seat that he originally took over from his father Gordon, who stepped down to concentrate on being a Stormont MLA, in compliance with the DUP’s policy on double jobbing.
“I have been around politics since I was aged three or four,” said Stephen, whose earliest memories include going out and about with his father on the campaign trail.
Holywood and Clandeboye electoral area elected two DUP councillors, with Jennifer Gilmour getting in on the count.
Larry Thompson, 83, who is standing for election in the Alliance stronghold of Bangor West, which is counted on Saturday, is the oldest candidate for the council and knows North Down well.
He said of the DUP’s prominence in the area latterly: “For the DUP to top the poll in an area as progressive as Holywood is an illustration of how much times have changed.”
But Holywood and Clandeboye did nonetheless elect three non-DUP candidates to council: John Barry for the Greens, who came second in the first count and was elected on the third, Andrew Muir, the Alliance Party mayor of the outgoing council who was six votes behind John Barry, and Daniel Allen for the Ulster Unionist Party, who secured his seat on the fourth count.
Across North Down and Ards, two parties that emphasise their non tribal appeal and who needed to poll strongly in such a traditionally moderate area, NI21 and the Northern Ireland Conservatives, did not attract large numbers of votes.
In the four areas which were counted on Friday, both parties fielded one candidate each, who polled on average around 200 votes each, with the Conservatives edging it over NI21.
Johnny Andrews, whose forebears include the Titanic designer Thomas Andrews, did the best of these two parties, when he won 411 votes in Comber. But it was not enough to prevent his elimination on the second count.
Comber was topped by Robert Gibson of the DUP, who got in on the first count. The other four elected councillors were, in order of election, James Fletcher of the Ulster Unionists, Deborah Girvan of Alliance, Trevor William Cummings of the DUP, and Stephen James Coooper of Traditional Unionist Voice.
That a member of Jim Allister’s TUV won a council seat before anyone in the Conservatives and NI21 will have exacerbated the disappointed the latter two parties.
Joe Boyle topped the ballot in the Ards Peninsula electorail area for the SDLP, and will be the only nationalist councillor on the new authority.
Asked if he would find it intimidating having such a status in an overwhelmingly unionist council, Mr Boyle said: “It is not intimidating for me. I have served ten years as the only nationalist councillor on Ards borough council, which is the larger council, but more of the same type of business. We are there to represent the people and we will do our best.”
Also elected for the peninsula was Robert Adair, who topped the poll for the DUP, and his party colleagure Nigel Edmund of the DUP, as well as Angus Caron of the Ulster Unionists.
The last seat in that electoral area will be decided on Saturay, with Alliance’s Kellie Mary Armstrong hoping to pick up a seat in an area which previously elected Alliance’s Kieran McCarthy.
Of the four council areas for which counting got under way on Friday, the least progress was made in Bangor Central.
This is because there were 17 candidates vying for six seats, and votes were widely spread between them.
When counting ceased on Friday night, only Wesley Graham Irvine had been elected. He had topped the poll for the DUP with 643 votes, in a contest in which no candidate secured an overwhelming mandate from the electorate.
Of 15 councillors decided by Friday night, the DUP had 7, the UUP 3, Alliance 2, while TUV, Green and SDLP had one each.
FIRST COUNT RESULTS BELOW:
Of the four district electoral areas being counted on Friday, (three are being counted on Saturday) the first count total votes were as follows:
Robert Hugh Adair (DUP) 1773
Kellie Mary Armstrong (All) 439
Sheila Bailie (SF) 388
Joseph Timothy Boyle (SDLP) 1387
John David Bustard (NI21) 114
Angus Yeaman Carson (UUP) 1199
Nigel Edmund (DUP) 621
Paul Leeman (NI Conservatives) 161
Colin Robert McCormick (All) 146
Edward Burns Thompson (DUP) 456
Louise Sara Alexandra Wallace (DUP) 559
HOLYWOOD & CLANDEBOYE
Daniel Allen (UUP) 619
John Barry (Green) 916
Stephen Gordon Dunne (DUP) 1423
Jennifer Mary Gilmour (DUP) 540
Matthew Ian Johnston (NI21) 208
Gerard Gabriel Alphonsus Leddy (Independent) 34
Peter Gerard Lismore (SDLP) 308
James Hamilton McKerrow (UUP) 475
Andrew David Muir (Alliance) 910
Kate Siobhan Nicholl (Alliance) 456
William David Fergus O’Callaghan (NI Conservatives) 265
ELECTED FIRST COUNT SG Dunne
John William Hunter Andrews (NI Conservatives) 411
Stephen James Cooper (TUV) 577
Trevor William Cummings (DUP) 715
James Edward Chandler Fletcher (UUP) 863
Robert Gibson (DUP) 1071
Deborah Mary Louise Girvan (All) 815
Isabella Hanna (UKIP) 427
Margaret Jayne Howson (NI21) 169
John Mervyn Oswald (DUP) 640
Philip Geoffrey Smith (UUP) 506
Stuart David Anderson (All) 443
Colin Mark Breen (Independent) 274
Alistair John Cathcart (DUP) 554
David Alan Chambers (Ind) 387
William Lee Cudworth (TUV) 300
Roberta Mahood Dunlop (DUP) 434
Nicholas Richard David Fell (All) 395
Peter James Floyd (NI21) 174
Mark Currell Gordon (Community Partnership NI) 222
Adam Harbinson (DUP) 203
Ian John Cyril Henry (UUP) 589
Wesley Graham Irvine (DUP) 643
Mary Louise Macartney (Ind) 445
Carl Christian McClean (UUP) 442
William John Montgomery (UKIP) 385
Noelle Anne Robinson (Green) 496
David Kenneth Symington(Cons) 170
SATURDAY COUNTS BELOW:
Naomi Esther Hannah Armstrong (DUP)
Linda Cleland (Alliance)
Ian Stephen Alexander Cox (Independent)
John Colville Elliott (DUP)
Katherine Ferguson (UUP)
Sharon Elizabeth Hunt (Ind)
Nichola Keenan (NI21)
Colin George Dallas Kennedy (DUP)
Alan Joseph McDowell (All)
Stephen McIlveen (DUP)
William Wallace McKendry (NI Conservatives)
David Mark McMullen (TUV)
James Menagh (Independent)
Richard John Smart (UUP)
BANGOR EAST & DONAGHADEE
Mark Ronald Brooks (UUP)
Albert Alan Chambers (Ind)
Christopher Ryan Eisenstadt (UUP)
Trana Gray (Green)
William David Keery (DUP)
Terence Hamilton Malcolm (DUP)
Peter James Martin (DUP)
Brian Alexander McBride (Cons)
William John Phineas McKee (NI21)
Thomas John Smith (DUP)
Joseph Edward Strutt (TUV)
Patrick John Toms (UKIP)
Gavin Walker (Alliance)
Alison Elizabeth Blayney (Commun Partnrshp)
Mark Brotherston (NI Cons)
Steven Bernard Denny (NI21)
Robert Samuel John Gordon (TUV)
Robert Alan Graham (DUP)
Alan Leslie (DUP)
Ingrid Logan (SDLP)
Paul Andrew Roberts (Green)
Marion Smith (UUP)
Laurance Thompson (Alliance)
Scott Alfred Wilson (Alliance)