Antrim and Newtownabbey: Full result shows unionist dominance eroded

General view of counting in the Valley Leisure Centre at the weekend
General view of counting in the Valley Leisure Centre at the weekend

The dominance of unionists on Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council has been eroded.

The university-run ARK election archive (www.ark.ac.uk) shows the last time there was a council election, in 2014, it yeilded the following split: 15 DUP, 12 UUP, four Alliance, four SDLP, three Sinn Fein, and two TUV.

General view of counting in the Valley Leisure Centre, 03-05-19, by AK (with UUP's Steve Aiken and Mark Cosgrove conferring)

General view of counting in the Valley Leisure Centre, 03-05-19, by AK (with UUP's Steve Aiken and Mark Cosgrove conferring)

Collected together, this spelled 29 unionists, seven nationalists, and four others.

The split now stands at: 14 DUP, nine UUP, seven Alliance, five Sinn Fein, four SDLP, and one independent – making the unionist-nationalist party balance 23 unionist, nine nationalist, seven Alliance and one independent.

Paul Girvan, DUP MP for South Antrim, told the News Letter the surge to Alliance was “alarming”, and said it “looks like some of the unionist votes have haemmorhaged to Alliance, and we need to see why”. He said this was principally a loss of the “soft unionist” vote, and that the DUP’s vote had kept “fairly solid in many of the areas”.

Ex-Alliance leader David Ford said when he arrived at the count headquarters in the Valley Leisure Centre early on Friday, it was already clear something had shifted.

“It’s rare that I come to this building and am grinning from ear to ear at 10am,” he said.

In the end, his party not only increased its seats, but topped the poll in terms of first-preference votes in four of the seven districts.

The stand-out victor was Neil Kelly, who said he was “a bit overwhelmed” by his performance in Antrim district, adding: “It’s the first time an Alliance councillor had topped the poll in over 40-odd years.”

Naomi Long dubbed the result in the borough “incredible”. She said Alliance always hears voters saying they want “more integration”.

“And then it comes to polling day, and people get in the booth and feel afraid of what may happen if they change their vote. I think people have reached a point in this election where they feel it couldn’t get any worse,” she said.

Among the other headline results emerging from the count at the Valley Leisure Centre was the election of the DUP’s first openly-gay politician Alison Bennington, and the re-election of the DUP’s Thomas Hogg by a far greater margin.

In 2014 councillor Hogg won 581 first-preference votes (and went on to become borough mayor). This time, he increased his number of first-preference votes by a whopping 72%.

This came despite him being handed a five month suspension from the council in February, following a conviction for drink-driving in 2018 (which also saw him banned from driving for a year).

In addition, first-time candidate Michael Stewart (who runs the Love Ballyclare Facebook page) came from nowhere to virtually top the Ballyclare district, and ex-UUP MP Danny Kinahan returns to the political fray with a seat in Ballyclare too.

In terms of turnout, DUP group leader Phillip Brett initially predicted a collapse, estimating it could be as low as 30-40% in the borough due to voter fatigue at the number of recent polls, and the fact it was a council-only vote (instead of co-inciding with Assembly or Euro elections).

In the event, turnout was fairly strong ranging across the districts from 42% to 53%, with four of the seven districts cracking the 50% mark (the council-wide turnout in 2014 was about 47%).

THE FULL RESULT (newly-elected councillors marked with ELECT)

AIRPORT

Thomas Burns (SDLP) ELECT 1,125

Anne-Marie Logue (Sinn Fein) ELECT 1,095

Matthew Magill (DUP) ELECT 1,164

Ben Mallon (DUP) 481

Vikki McAuley (Alliance) ELECT 1,221

Paul Michael (UUP) ELECT 893

Mervyn Rea (UUP) 568

Cathy Rooney (Sinn Fein) 505

ANTRIM

Richard William Cairns (TUV) 347

Adrian Cochrane-Watson (Ind) 359

Paul Dunlop (DUP) ELECT 603

Neil Kelly (Alliance) ELECT 1,689

Roisin Lynch (SDLP) ELECT 723

Gerard Magee (Sinn Fein) 583

Karl McMeekin (DUP) 363

Jim Montgomery (UUP) ELECT 416

John Smyth (DUP) ELECT 734

Leah Smyth (UUP) ELECT 615

BALLYCLARE

Jeannie Archibald (DUP) ELECT 739

David Arthurs (Ind) 457

Gary English (Alliance) 775

Mandy Girvan ELECT (DUP) 861

Danny Kinahan (UUP) ELECT 1,253

Vera McWilliam (UUP) ELECT 707

Austin Orr (DUP) 443

Norrie Ramsay (UUP) 341

Michael Stewart (Ind) ELECT 1,182

DUNSILLY

Linda Clarke (DUP) ELECT 965

Henry Cushinan (Sinn Fein) ELECT 1,064

Glenn Finlay (Alliance) ELECT 989

Jordan Greer (DUP) 907

Andrew Maguire (Sinn Fein) 552

Roderick Swann (UUP) ELECT 711

Gareth Thomas (UUP) 424

Ryan Wilson (SDLP) ELECT 902

GLENGORMLEY URBAN

Alison Bennington (DUP) ELECT 856

Phillip Brett (DUP) ELECT 1,099

Samantha Burns (DUP) 373

Mark Cosgrove (UUP) ELECT 891

Michael Goodman (Sinn Fein) ELECT 904

Rosie Kinnear (Sinn Fein) ELECT 801

Michael Maguire (UUP) 337

Noreen McClelland (SDLP) ELECT 992

Julian McGrath (Alliance) ELECT 1,345

Paul Veronica (Green Party) 341

MACEDON

Robert Foster (UUP) ELECT 956

Paul Hamill (DUP) ELECT 1,043

Robert Hill (UKIP) 154

Thomas Hogg (DUP) ELECT 999

David Hollis (TUV) 223

Dean McCullough (DUP) ELECT 321

Taylor McGrann (Sinn Fein) ELECT 765

Victor Robinson (DUP) 327

Stafford Ward (Ind) 343

Billy Webb (Alliance) ELECT 1,127

THREE MILE WATER

Fraser Agnew (UUP) ELECT 1,100

Norman Jonathan Boyd (TUV) 234

Tom Campbell (Alliance) ELECT 1,075

Mark Cooper (DUP) ELECT 1,230

Sam Flanagan (DUP) ELECT 489

Julie Gilmour (Alliance) ELECT 749

Gary Grattan (Ind) 223

Stephen McCarthy (UUP) 514

Stephen Ross (DUP) ELECT 1,103

Raymond Stewart (UKIP) 319