Election 2022: SF confident they will emerge top while early tallies suggest TUV breakthrough

Although the DUP still believe they are in the game, Sinn Fein are said to be quietly confident that they will emerge as the largest party as the count continues at the three election count centres today.

Early tallies from the counts at Titanic in Belfast, Jordanstown and Magherafelt indicate it could be a breakthrough day for the TUV.

The TUV has polled strongly in a number of constituencies including Strangford, Newry/Armagh and South Antrim, according to early tally figures.

Conversely, the Ulster Unionists appear to be in trouble in a number of areas including Strangford, where they are in danger of losing a seat to the TUV, the tallies suggest.

Ballot boxes are opened at Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast

SDLP sources expressed concern this morning for the fate of Infrastructure Minister and deputy leader Nichola Mallon in North Belfast. They said she is in danger of losing her seat to the Alliance’s Nuala McAllister.

The Alliance Party surge is also threatening to unseat the SDLP’s Pat Catney in Lagan Valley, they said.

Overall, the combination of Sinn Fein emerging with the most seats, a stronger TUV presence in the Assembly and the Protocol still being in place in the absence of any UK Government move to change it, makes the chances of a new Executive being formed extremely slim.

Ulster Unionist South Belfast candidate Stephen McCarthy has told The News Letter that “it’s not looking likely” that he is going win a seat.

While he said it was still early days at around three and a half thousand first preferences, Mr Mccarthy conceded it was unlikely he would get over the line.

He said Edwin Poots will get elected. The UUP performance in South Belfast reflects an overall bad day for the UUP so far.