McGuinness irked by Mid-Ulster delay

 

The Mid-Ulster count, which finished just after 10pm, was the final one to conclude in the Northern Ireland election. 

Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, who topped the poll with 8,957 votes, complained about how long the count was taking during the evening. “I'm that exhausted now that by the time I get to the podium to make my acceptance speech, I think I'll be too tired,” he said.

However, Mr McGuinness used the opportunity to denounce the activities of dissident republicans. “They must recognise that they're in a very lonely place and there is no prospect whatsoever of them destroying what has been built up,” he said. Mr McGuinness said it was unfortunate that some people appeared determined to “plunge us back into the past”, but insisted none of their objectives were achievable.

“Democracy had prevailed over those who would try to drive us back to the past.”

Mr McGuinness was elected on the first count late last night, alongside the DUP's Ian McCrea, a son of the Stormont speaker Willie McCrea, who secured 7,127 first preferences.

SDLP deputy leader Patsy McGloan was elected on the fifth count, while the UUP's Sandra Overend, a daughter of outgoing MLA Billy Armstrong, took a seat on the sixth count.

Two more Sinn Féin candidates, Michelle O'Neill and Francis Malloy, eventually took seats on the seventh and final count.

Meanwhile, the controversial Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) candidate Jim Allister was deemed elected without reaching the quota in the North Antrim constituency, following the elimination of the sitting SDLP MLA Declan O'Loan.

Mr Allister promised to be the “scourge of IRA Sinn Féin” in the power-sharing Assembly and was also critical of the DUP, the party he left in 2007, saying he looked forward to “carrying the torch of traditional unionism into Stormont”.

Three DUP candidates were returned in the constituency, which is the heartland of the Paisley family, with Paul Frew topping the poll late on Friday night. He was elected on the first count alongside his party colleague Mervyn Storey and Sinn Féin's Daithi McKay.

The third DUP man, David McIlveen, was elected on the eighth count, while Robin Swann of the UUP was also deemed elected without reaching the quota after Mr O'Loan was excluded.