SDLP loses South Antrim seat

Sat, May 7, 2011, 01:00

The SDLP has lost its only seat in South Antrim when the DUP’s Pam Lewis gained the crucial transfers to win out from outgoing Assembly member Thomas Burns.

Ms Lewis’s victory brings the party’s seat total to three in this constituency.

Mr Burns was expected from the outset to have difficulty retaining the seat he has held since 2003, and his problems mounted with boundary changes that made the constituency 2.3 per cent more unionist.

When the count resumed this morning his fate was sealed.

Ms Lewis, mayor of Antrim, said she was “over the moon” to have won the seat and looked forward to seeing more women in Stormont when the Assembly reconvened.

When counting finished last night four assembly members had been elected – poll topping DUP candidate Paul Girvan. He was co-opted in place of the party’s big vote getter MP Willie McCrea, who stood down as part of the party’s policy to move away from “double jobbing”.

The DUP’s Trevor Clarke was also elected on the first count along with Sinn Féin finance spokesman Mitchel McLaughlin. Alliance party leader David Ford was elected on the second count after he polled just 41 votes short of the 4,595 quota on the first count.

The UUP’s Danny Kinahan was elected on the third count this morning. He rejected other parties’ predictions of their demise. “We are there and we’ve got to get Stormont working," he said.

He expressed his disappointment that the party had not taken a second seat in South Antrim but said the focus now had to be on “getting the Assembly working and making decisions quickly” to address the jobs crisis.

Mr Kinahan said all parties needed to work together and to have “less bickering and less petty politicking”.