Newry, Mourne and Down will be the only authority where unionists failed to qualify for a minority veto on decisions – by only a handful of votes.
However, although Sinn Fein had been tipped to end up as the largest party – aiming for 18 seats – a late surge by the SDLP created a tie with 14 apiece, leaving two Alliance and three independents potentially holding the balance of nationalist power.
Unionists took eight seats, with nine needed to qualify for a veto. They lost critical ground with Slieve Croob UUP councillor Desmond Patterson and party colleague Walter Lyons in Rowallane both losing their seats by very narrow margins.
See Monday’s News Letter for full reports.