Election 2022 Live Blog: Henry McDonald talks to newly elected MLA Diane Forsythe - Who has won a seat so far - Winning Alliance candidate declares ‘God save the queen!’

Counting continues in the Northern Ireland Assembly elections with Sinn Fein set to win the largest number of seats

By Michael Cousins
Friday, 6th May 2022, 1:41 pm
Updated Saturday, 7th May 2022, 4:57 pm

Scroll down from the latest news from all the count centres.

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UUP leader Doug Beattie re elected

Northern Ireland Assembly Elections 2022

Last updated: Wednesday, 11 May, 2022, 14:48

SDLP fail to take third seat in Foyle as Sinn Fein’s vote holds strong

In what was the last constituency of the Stormont elections to be fully declared, the Social Democratic & Labour Party’s (SDLP) hopes of securing a third seat in Foyle failed to materialise as Sinn Fein’s vote remained strong.

Sinn Fein’s Padraig Delargy topped the poll with 20% of first preference votes while running mate Ciara Ferguson took a second seat for the party, despite neither having never stood for Assembly election before.

The SDLP fielded three candidates, hoping to capitalise on the 2019 general election when party leader Colum Eastwood defeated the sitting Sinn Fein MP Elisha McCallion by more than 17,000 votes.

The SDLP’s Mark H Durkan was returned after the first count, securing a 17% share of the vote. Late on Saturday evening, incumbent MLA Sinead McLaughlin took the second seat for the party, but at the expense of former mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Brian Tierney.

There was no change to the final seat as the Democratic Unionist Party’s (DUP) Gary Middleton was returned to the Assembly after a tightly-fought battle with Ulster Unionist candidate Ryan McCready.

In a count that went on until the early hours of Sunday morning, in the end there were only 96 votes in it.

Mr Middleton said: “We always knew it was a tight run for the fifth seat in Foyle but I am delighted and honoured to have got over the line and secured that seat. I look forward to getting back to work on Monday in the constituency office.”

The final tally in Foyle was 2 Sinn Fein, 2 SDLP and 1 DUP. Turnout in the area was 61%.

Ex-UUP chief Mike Nesbitt calls for party to be patient with Doug Beattie’s leadership

ELECTION 2022: Ex-UUP chief Mike Nesbitt calls for party to be patient with Doug Beattie’s leadership

In Strangford, re-elected UUP MLA Mike Nesbitt has said the party should stick with Doug Beattie as leader.

Election 2022: This is who has won a seat so far

Election 2022: This is who has won a seat so far

Many seats have been taken in the 2022 Assembly election - however, other candidates are facing a nail-biting wait to see if they will make it over the line.

Winning Alliance candidate declares ‘God save the queen!’

ELECTION 2022: Winning Alliance candidate declares ‘God save the queen!’

Triumphant Strangford Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has praised the queen in her victory speech.

Gerry Carroll of People Before Profit re-elected in West Belfast.

DUP candidate in South Down Diane Forsythe has just been elected

She came through a campaign that exposed divisions in the party’s local association, saw the resignation of veteran DUP stalwart Jim Wells and his switch to support the TUV’s Harold McKee.

Ms Forsythe was also subjected to a smear campaign in the last week of the election. She has emerged as the first woman to represent Unionism at Assembly level in the constituency.

Re-elected UUP MLA Mike Nesbitt said the party should stick with Doug Beattie as leader despite its performance in the Assembly election

Mr Nesbitt told the News Letter’s Political Editor the UUP should also maintain its message of an all embracing, liberal, tolerant unionism.

He admitted that it had been a struggle to secure his Strangford seat and he had been “spooked by the early tallies which were very bad for me at the start but then picked up.”Mr Nesbitt continued:

“We have got the right message with the right leader in Doug and the mistake we shouldn’t make is to step away from that progressive, inclusive, confident unionism.

We have to keep at it until that message gets through. We got squeezed this time and I really think there were a lot of people who would vote Alliance that might have given us a first preference .

Things do change in politics and if we keep going in the same direction with the same leader and are patient it will pay off.”

Our Political Editor spoke to two successful candidates in South Belfast at the Titanic Count, Paula Bradshaw of Alliance and the SDLP’s Matthew O’Toole.

Speaking after she and her running mate Kate Nicholl were both elected on Saturday lunchtime, Ms Bradshaw said Alliance had fought a “very positive and progressive campaign with a fantastic running mate.”She said: “

I think that the constituency is the most diverse in Northern Ireland and so it’s appropriate that we have two representatives for the whole of its population.

Because it is a changing area and Kate has a wonderful track record in terms of helping the BAME community, and she herself is from Zimbabwe.

So we complimented each other in reaching out to the many communities that there are in South Belfast.

Matthew O’Toole of the SDLP will be the party’s lone representative not only for South Belfast but maybe even for the whole of the city in the next Assembly.

He told our Political Editor that while it had been a good election for him he acknowledged it had been a bad one for his party.

“It’s definitely a difficult election for the party in the context of a very big Sinn Fein and Alliance Party vote surge which has depressed our first preference vote in all parts of Northern Ireland.

In relative terms in South Belfast our vote upheld well but given the scale of the surge we had these losses, “ he said.Mr O’Toole denied that the SDLP’s Westminster seat was now under threat in the next general election.

“I think Claire Hanna’s position is safe because she works brilliantly for her constituency. She will continue to do that as she is one of the most accomplished MPs around.”

The TUV have failed to make a breakthrough in Strangford. Mike Nesbitt has won the last seat with Alliance's Nick Mathieson being elected as well.

Concluding her victory speech at the Titanic count centre Alliance’s poll topper Kellie Armstrong cried out: “God Save the Queen.”

This was after a warm tribute to Her Majesty by the Alliance candidate.

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