Newry and Armagh was living up to its reputation as one of the most predictable seats in Northern Ireland with Sinn Fein’s Mickey Brady heading for victory.
This is one of four ‘pact’ seats between DUP and UUP with DRD Minister Danny Kennedy the unionist hope. But the fact that the UUP drew the short straw in the four-constituency agreement was evident.
The only time this seat went ‘orange’ was in the first poll in 1983 when Jim Nicholson crept through the nationalist split, but it hasn’t happened since.
Newry and Armagh had to wait until the Upper Bann count was complete (around 2am) so their candidates were late in arriving. Brady, though, was quietly confident he will see off his main nationalist rival, GAA hero Justin McNulty.
Kennedy insisted he would attract nationalist votes from the Newry area where he once chaired the local council, but that was seen as a touch of bravado. The final two in Newry and Armagh are viewed as make-weight candidates. Alliance, represented by Kate Nicholl, have never fared well in the fiercely orange-green constituency – Andrew Muir attracted just 545 votes last time.