Tom Elliott’s political career hangs in balance after narrow defeat to SF

Tom Elliott arrives at the election count in Omagh last night. He went on to lose his Fermanagh and South Tyrone seat narrowly to Michelle Gildernew
Tom Elliott arrives at the election count in Omagh last night. He went on to lose his Fermanagh and South Tyrone seat narrowly to Michelle Gildernew

Tom Elliott’s political career hangs in the balance this morning after relinquishing his seat to Sinn Fein’s Michelle Gildernew.

The Co Tyrone woman wrenched back the Fermanagh and South Tyrone seat which she previously held for 13 years after another closely fought count in Omagh.

On the back of Sinn Fein gains in the constituency during the March Assembly race, Michelle Gildernew managed to overturn Tom Elliott’s 530 vote victory in 2015 to win by 875.

Those gains came at the expense of the SDLP’s Mary Garrity, whose 2,587 votes was the lowest recorded by the party in the history of the constituency.

Congratulating the Sinn Fein woman with a handshake in the count hall, Mr Elliott spoke to supporters briefly before quickly departing the centre.

However speaking to the Newsletter as he drove back to his Ballinamallard home in the early hours of Friday, the UUP candidate said it was too early to consider his political future.

“Politics isn’t about me, it’s about representation of the people,” he said.

Commenting on the nature of the defeat, he added, “Obviously there has been a reaction to the March election and that has pressed some buttons and polarised voters into almost two groupings.”

Speaking after her victory, Michelle Gildernew said she was “deeply humbled” by the 25,230 votes she took.

“I’m pretty sure that’s the biggest mandate of anybody in the North,”she said.

The new MP also pledged to represent all consituents.

“I will represent Green voters, SDLP, Alliance and the combined strength of Tom Elliott’s vote. Those people know I will represent them and I’ve a lot of work to do.”