UNIONIST fears that Sinn Fein may gain a second seat in the constituency proved unfounded as the UUP retained its two seats.
Earlier, unionists were at each other’s throats as it looked as if UUP’s decision to run three candidates had opened the door for a second Sinn Fein candidate to side-step into Stormont.
The UUP trio – Colin McCusker, Sam Gardiner and Jo-Anne Dobson – all attracted votes in the mid-3,000s after the first count, with only SF’s John O’Dowd passing the quota of 6,052 – he polled 6,649 and looked like taking co-runner Johnny McGibbon in with him.
However, Ms Dobson held off republican advances to claim the final seat late on Friday night.
The other five MLAs - Stephen Moutray and Sidney Anderson (DUP), Samuel Gardiner (UUP), Sinn Fein’s John O’Dowd and Dolores Kelly of the SDLP - all return to Stormont.