Election 2022: Paula Bradshaw and Matthew O'Toole speak out after successful campaigns

Political Editor Henry McDonald speaks to two successful candidates in South Belfast at the Titanic Count, Paula Bradshaw of Alliance and the SDLP's Matthew O'Toole.

By Henry McDonald
Saturday, 7th May 2022, 1:32 pm
Paula Bradshaw
Paula Bradshaw

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.

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"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."