Alliance Party leader David Ford has said denied that his seat was looking “dicey” after a second count in South Antrim put him in seventh place.
By later on Friday afternoon his condition had improved, and at time of the third count he ranked fifth in the constituency.
However, back in 2011, he had won more than 4,500 first-preference votes.
This time, he won only around 3,100.
It was put to him that seventh place was quite a disappointing showing for a party leader, and when asked what he put it down to, he said that his job as justice minister had perhaps taken him away from the front line of constituency politics.
“The reality is that for the last six years I’ve had a very busy job,” he said.
“Which means I have perhaps been at fewer community events or less on the doorsteps than other candidates have been...
“I don’t think it was ever looking dicey.”
He said he was “quite content”.
He would not be drawn on whether this would be his last election, dubbing that “a bizarre question”.
The first person elected to South Antrim was DUP man Paul Girvan, but it took a handful of transfers to help him over the line because he did not have enough first-preference votes to automatically qualify during the first count.