Watch: General election Ian Paisley tops the poll

Ian Paisley topped the poll for the DUP in North Antrim as expected, securing the Westminster seat his late father held for decades.

It was the first election where the physical presence of the ‘big man’ was missing but his political, and spiritual, legacy was still very much in evidence as the party faithful followed North Antrim DUP tradition with singing shortly after the victory announcement was made.

Ian Paisley celebrates his victory in the  North Antrim constituency count in Ballymena tonight with his wife, Fiona.'PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

Ian Paisley celebrates his victory in the North Antrim constituency count in Ballymena tonight with his wife, Fiona.'PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

In truth, there was virtually no possibility of the seat changing hands but Paisley the Younger showed no complacency in his campaign tactics.

Eligible voters in North Antrim were 75,876. The number who polled was 42,116, which represented a turnout of 55.51 per cent.

Mr Paisley secured his Westminster seat with 18,107 votes.

TUV candidate Timothy Gaston polled 6,561 votes, Sinn Fein candidate Daithi McKay polled 5,143, UUP Candidate Robin Swann 5,064, SDLP candidate Declan O’Loan polled 2,925. Alliance candidate Jayne Dunlop polled 2,351 votes, Conservative candidate Carol Freeman 368 votes, UKIP candidate Robert Hill 1,341 votes and Independent candidate Thomas Stephen Palmer 57 votes.

In his speech, Mr Paisley paid tribute to his mother Eileen and his wife Fiona.

He also called for a national day of prayer throughout the UK on Sunday.

With some uncertainty over the formation of a future government in Downing Street, he said: “Church and political leaders must seek God’s help because the situation is so complex.”

With his Democratic Unionist Party possibly centrally involved in the decision-making process over the next few days, Mr Paisley added: “This is big boy, grown-up, sensible politics.

Timothy Gaston (N Antrim) TUV

Timothy Gaston (N Antrim) TUV

“This is a significant result which puts the DUP centre-stage not only in Northern Ireland but nationally, and we will do what has to be done in the best interests for the people of the UK and Northern Ireland.

“People need to have leadership at this time and seek guidance and that’s why it would be a good idea for church and political leaders to lead a national day of prayer this weekend.”

Later speaking to the News Letter Mr Paisley said after winning the seat on the first occasion without his father, he said he “missed my dad and his guidance because it was great to have him by my side”.

He said it was “nice to bring the Paisley name for 50 years into Parliament and it is something to look forward to and building on that I will take it as it comes”.

TUV candidate Timothy Gaston said he was pleased “with a very credible result here in North Antrim as a first time candidate at the age of 26”.

“We have built a solid base here ikn North Antrim building on the solid work Jim Allister has done. Five years ago Jim got 7000. The turnout is slightly down so I did not get far off what Jim got the last time and I am happy enough and it is all about building for next year and the road to Stormont 2016. And I believe between now and next year we will be able to build on it.”