In a historic development, the DUP’s first openly gay politician has been elected to office.
To cheers and hugs from colleagues and supporters, Alison Bennington was declared the winner of a council seat on Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.
She had polled second among the DUP candidates in terms of first-preference votes, winning 856 (compared with 1,099 for Phillip Brett and 373 for Samantha Burns).
Early on, the DUP indicated that she could be elected on the second or third count, as transfer votes from eliminated candidates were transferred to her.
In the end, it was not for several more counts that she secured enough votes to win the seat.
She repeatedly declined requests to speak to the News Letter, and at the end of today’s counting there were – unusually – no speeches from any successful candidates.
A source told the News Letter her partner was not present in the Valley Leisure Centre, where the count was taking place.
She was formerly manager in Newtownabbey council’s leisure division. Her LinkedIn online CV lists her as presently being the head of a sport and leisure consultancy.
She is also listed as having a business administration and management Masters’ from Ulster University.
She was one of 25 councillors elected on Friday. The count to decide the remaining 15 will be on Saturday.
In 2014, the result yielded the following seats: 15 DUP, 12 UUP, four Alliance, four SDLP, three SF, and two TUV.
So far in 2019, there are 10 DUP, five UUP, five Alliance, three Sinn Fein, and two SDLP.