South Down: Hazzard climbs political mountain to unseat Ritchie in Mourne country

Chris Hazzard
Chris Hazzard

Chris Hazzard has talked up the significance of becoming the “first republican” to be elected as MP for South Down following his victory over Margaret Ritchie.

The Sinn Fein MLA ran out a clear winner over the SDLP stalwart who immediately vowed to “live and fight for another day”.

Just a few years ago the idea of the SDLP losing the seat would have been unthinkable.

Mrs Ritchie was returned in 2015 with a 6,000 majority over Mr Hazzard so the turnaround in fortunes has surprised many observers.

Speaking after the result was announced, she said: “Brexit has changed the political landscape.”

Newcomer Diane Forsythe of the DUP polled a respectable 8,867 – more than double the number of votes for the party in 2015.

Ulster Unionist candidate Harold McKee paid a glowing tribute to track record of the outgoing MP. Addressing Mrs Ritchie from the podium following the result announcement, he said: “Margaret, you will be missed.”

Turnout: 67.49%

• Chris Hazzard (SF) - 20,328

• Margaret Ritchie (SDLP) - 17,882

• Diane Forsythe (DUP) - 8,867

• Harold McKee (UUP) - 2,002

• Andrew McMurray (All) - 1,814