DUP veteran Jim Shannon gave an emotional speech as he was convincingly returned to Westminster for a second term by the people of Strangford.
Presenting his wife Sandra with a bouquet of flowers to mark her birthday, the normally ebullient figure also paid tribute to his father who died 10 weeks ago and was forced to pause to collect his thoughts as he contested his first election without him.
Mr Shannon went on to pay tribute to his constituents who returned him with 15,053 votes, 10,185 ahead of his nearest rival the UUP candidate Robert Burgess (4,868).
Just behind him was Alliance candidate Kellie Armstrong who was delighted at her tally of 4,687. At one stage Alliance had been tipped to take second spot behind Shannon but she said the result presented the party with a superb platform on which to contest next year’s Assembly elections.
One surprise of the night was the performance of UKIP candidate Joe Jordan who polled 2,237 votes; just under 100 shy of the SDLP’s Joe Boyle (2,335), and well ahead of TUV candidate Stephen Cooper on 1,701.
“I feel immensely privileged and immensely humbled to be elected again as a Member of Parliament for Strangford and my commitment is emphatic and wholehearted,” said Mr Shannon.
“I love helping people and that’s what it’s about for me. For the last 30 years as a councillor. an MLA and now as a Member of Parliament for the second term, I will pledge myself to continue to work for them as I did in the past.
“I look forward to tomorrow morning and, at 9.15 tomorrow morning, Jim Shannon will be in his office ready for business.”