Election 2017: Number one finish ensures early night for Armstrong family

Alliance Party's 'Kellie Armstrong who was elected in first place in Strangford. 'Photo by Brian Little / Press Eye.
Alliance Party's 'Kellie Armstrong who was elected in first place in Strangford. 'Photo by Brian Little / Press Eye.

Alliance’s Kellie Armstrong was first past the post in Strangford, an outcome which meant her 13-year-old daughter would get to bed early.

Mrs Armstrong’s daughter Sophia was by her side when she was elected at the fourth stage in what the politician described as a “pleasant surprise”.

DUP’s Simon Hamilton became the second MLA for Strangford at the next count and he is likely to be joined by fellow DUP candidate Michelle McIlveen and Mike Nesbitt.

The fifth seat will be hotly contested by DUP’s Peter Weir, UUP’s Philip Smith and SDLP’s Joe Boyle.

Asked if her daughter would be following in her footsteps into politics, Strangford’s first MLA past the post, Mrs Armstrong said: “She’s got the gift of the gab, but I think she’s more into technology. She’s a scientist at heart.”

She added: “Sophia was here for the long haul at the last election until 11, but thankfully we’ll be getting home earlier tonight with myself getting in early and Stephen (Farry) getting in here (Aurora Leisure Centre) at the first stage.”

Of her election she said: “My job was to secure the seat, I didn’t expect to come in at number one.

“For this campaign my job was to concentrate on going out, knocking doors, talking to people, telling them about our policies and securing the seat again.

“To come in first is a pleasant surprise. So it worked and I have to say a huge thanks to my team.

“They were out walking the same number of steps as me, knocking doors. Some of them are volunteers, not even members of the Alliance Party, just people who believed in our vision.

“A lot of young, new members came forward and said we want to help so it was absolutely delightful. Unfortunately we did it in the lashing rain. Usually when you have an election in May you get some good days.”

Of her party’s outlook for the election Mrs Armstrong said: “The minimum number of seats we’re expecting to get will be eight. It’s looking absolutely like that’s going to happen.

“Paddy Brown in South Down is looking amazing. He’s polled a fantastic lot of first preference votes, we’ll see how the transfers fall for him. He could be our ninth seat. That would be wonderful.”

She said that Stormont needed to be up and running again as soon as possible.

“I’m not going to be sitting up there while we go to a 75% budget,” she said.

“That will hurt every household in Northern Ireland.

“I don’t want to see a stalemate happening. I don’t want to go back to direct rule. That’s not why we’re here. We believe in devolution. Northern Irish people in politics are the best people to rule Northern Ireland.”