Sinn Fein have held onto the Newry and Armagh seat thanks to the efforts of a relative newcomer to the party’s Westminster electoral team.
Mickey Brady, who has been a Northern Ireland Assemblyman since 2007, took the seat with 20,488 votes, beating the Ulster Unionist Party’s Danny Kennedy, who polled 16,312.
Mr Brady, a well-known welfare worker in the area, takes over the seat from party colleague Conor Murphy, a former IRA prisoner and once Regional Development Minister in the Stormont Executive, who took the seat in 2005 and held onto it at the 2010 general election.
Mr Brady said he was “absolutely delighted” at the increase in his party’s vote. “It has been such an exceptional campaign, such a wonderful experience,” he said. “We will carry on our policies of anti-austerity and equality and ensure all the parties unite to stand against austerity and ensure that we in the North get the best possible deal from Westminster.”
Of his party’s abstentionist stance, he added: “People have this myth that we as Sinn Fein members do not go to Westminster; we don’t take our seats but we certainly do the work.”
Despite an electoral pact in place between the two main unionist parties, Danny Kennedy was unable to break the republican vote, even though he effectively doubled his vote from 2010.
“I do regret that the voice of Newry and Armagh will continue not to be heard where it should be heard, in the House of Commons,” he told supporters. “(But) the Ulster Unionist Party is not only in very firm business in Newry and Armagh, it is also back in business in the House of Commons.”