Allister disappointed in failure to win seats

Jim Allister’s TUV won nearly 66,000 votes but only he won a seat for the party due to a failure to attract enough transfers.

Mr Allister said: “I am very disappointed across the country that we have tripled our vote but that is not reflected in the number of seats.

“We have 7.6 percent of the vote, a massive increase, but that is not reflected in the number of seats. It is very disappointing when you collect 4-5,000 votes or more in many other constituencies that it doesn’t translate into seats because of the vagaries of the system.”

In his North Antrim constituency Mr Allister on 8,282 first preference votes was ahead of both DUP candidates while his running mate Matthew Armstrong polled 2,481 votes but was later eliminated at stage five of the counting.

Jim Allister

The TUV came closest to winning a seat in Strangford where its candidate Stephen Cooper gained 5,186 first preferences votes and was only eliminated on the ninth count.

In Strangford Mr Cooper got 12.7 percent of the first preferences while overall in Northern Ireland the TUV vote increased to 7.6 percent, which is more than three times the share the party got in the 2017 Assembly election.

Meanwhile former UUP leader Tom Elliott said he had “mixed emotions” about being elected after his running mate Rosemary Barton failed to return to the Assembly.

Mr Elliott admitted that it had been a “risky tactic” to run both of them on the UUP ticket in the border constituency.

Mrs Barton had been an Assembly member since 2016 and was the UUP’s only female representative at Stormont.

“It was a big decision for me to try to come back into that level of politics. We have increased our vote by about 2,500, and we’re pleased about that but there are also mixed emotions.

“It was always at the back of our minds that it was a possibility that we could take two seats, but it didn’t work out. That’s politics.

“We weren’t sure if it was going to fall mine or Rosemary’s way, so both of us had agreed that ‘whatever happens, happens.’ We’ve been friends for years,” Mr Elliot said.

Mrs Barton received 2,912 first preference votes while Mr Elliot obtained 5,422 and was elected on the sixth count.

Overall there was no change to the political make up of Fermanagh/South Tyrone.

l Ben Lowry, page 6