Paisley, Simpson and Wilson returned to Westminster for the DUP

The DUP's Ian Paisley celebrates his victory in North Antrim with his wife, Fiona
The DUP's Ian Paisley celebrates his victory in North Antrim with his wife, Fiona

• Ian Paisley topped the poll for the DUP in North Antrim as expected, securing the Westminster seat his late father held for decades.

It was the first election where the physical presence of the ‘big man’ was missing but his political, and spiritual, legacy was still very much in evidence as the party faithful followed North Antrim DUP tradition with singing shortly after the victory announcement was made.

In truth, there was virtually no possibility of the seat changing hands but Paisley the Younger showed no complacency in his campaign tactics.

Eligible voters in North Antrim were 75,876. The number who polled was 42,116, which represented a turnout of 55.51 per cent.

Mr Paisley secured his Westminster seat with 18,107 votes.

TUV candidate Timothy Gaston polled 6,561 votes, Sinn Fein candidate Daithi McKay polled 5,143, UUP Candidate Robin Swann 5,064, SDLP candidate Declan O’Loan polled 2,925. Alliance candidate Jayne Dunlop polled 2,351 votes, Conservative candidate Carol Freeman 368 votes, UKIP candidate Robert Hill 1,341 votes and Independent candidate Thomas Stephen Palmer 57 votes.

In his speech, Mr Paisley paid tribute to his mother Eileen and his wife Fiona.

He also called for a national day of prayer throughout the UK on Sunday. With some uncertainty over the formation of a future government in Downing Street, he said: “Church and political leaders must seek God’s help because the situation is so complex.”

With his DUP possibly centrally involved in the decision-making process over the next few days, Mr Paisley added: “This is big boy, grown-up, sensible politics.

“This is a significant result which puts the DUP centre-stage not only in Northern Ireland but nationally, and we will do what has to be done in the best interests for the people of the UK and Northern Ireland.

“People need to have leadership at this time and seek guidance and that’s why it would be a good idea for church and political leaders to lead a national day of prayer this weekend.”

• In Foyle, the SDLP’s Mark Durkan was returned with a poll-topping 17,725.

• West Tyrone incumbent Pat Doherty of Sinn Fein retook his seat easily with a majority of well over 10,000 – but his subsequent comments caused bad feeling and outbursts from unionists.

Mr Doherty’s claim that West Tyrone was “still a republican seat” provoked a strong reaction from the DUP and UUP contingents.

And he provoked a further angry reaction by saying that unionists have “nothing to fear from reconciliation” – which prompted a loud outburst from a unionist “what about some respect first Pat”.

Coming in second was the DUP’s Tom Buchanan who said that some 56pc of people did not vote for Sinn Fein, therefore challenging the claim that it is a republican seat.

Mr Doherty took 16,807 votes, Tom Buchanan of the DUP 6,747, Daniel McCrossan of the SDLP 6,444 and Ross Hussey of the UUP 6,144.

There was a 61.1pc turnout with 39,014 votes cast.

• David Simpson retained the Upper Bann Westminster seat – with a slightly decreased majority.

The DUP man polled 15,480 votes, with UUP’s Jo-Anne Dobson in second place with 13,166, followed by Sinn Fein’s Catherine Seeley on 11,593 in third spot.

After a count of ebbing and flowing, the DUP man said he was delighted to make Westminster for the third time, and in his hard-hitting acceptance speech described the UUP’s tactics as “despicable”.

But Mr Dobson countered that DUP had used scare tactics in splitting the vote “while we were totally positive”.

The rest of the count was Amandeep Singh Bhodal (Con) 210; Dolores Kelly (SDLP) 4,238; Martin Kelly (CISTA) 460; Peter Lavery (All) 1,780; Damien Harte (WP) 121.

The turn-out was just under 60 per cent.

• The independent, Lady Sylvia Hermon, topped the poll in North Down with 17,689

• In Strangford, the DUP’s Jim Shannon was elected, polling 15,053.

• The DUP’s Sammy Wilson topped the poll in East Antrim 12,103 votes.