Sinn Fein’s Francie Molloy retained his seat in Mid-Ulster in an emphatic fashion.
His first won it in a by-election three years ago after Martin McGuinness, deputy First Minister at the Northern Ireland Assembly stood down and the result early today was never in doubt - a clear winner over his nearest rival, the Ulster Unionist Sandra Overend.
The Democratic Unionist Party’s Ian McCrea whose father Willie lost his seat in south Antrim just hours earlier, finished in third place.
Molloy, 64, a member of the Assembly since 1989, the year of the signing of the Good Friday peace agreement, and who at one stage was a deputy Speaker, polled almost 20,000 votes - more than 13,500 ahead of Overend.
Supporters cheered wildly as he was declared the winner and said afterwards his campaign was about equality.
He said: “Some people find it very hard to understand that. Some parties do not accept equality, but equality is what the future is about. Equality endangers no one, but is good for everyone. Tory cuts to the most vulnerable in our society will deliver nothing, except further hardship.”
During his acceptance speech he took a swipe at former Mid Ulster MP Rev. Willie McCrea who was defeated in south Antrim.