Anderson returned to Europe in NI first count
DUP’s Dodds seems certain to be elected while UUP’s Nicholson under pressure
Martina Anderson pictured with Gerry Adams at the King’s Hall, Belfast during counting for Northern Ireland’s three seats in the European Parliamentary elections today. Photograph: PA
The outgoing Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson was returned to Brussels this evening when she exceeded the quota on the first count in the Northern Ireland constituency.
Diane Dodds who polled quite strongly in second place for the DUP seemed certain to be elected in a subsequent count or counts with the Ulster Unionist Party candidate Jim Nicholson favourite to retain his seat although under some pressure from the SDLP and the Traditional Unionist Voice party.
Ms Anderson comfortably topped the poll with 159,813 votes, exceeding the quota of 156,532 by over 3,000 votes. Diane Dodds was second with 131,163 votes and as she was almost 48,000 votes ahead of her nearest rival, Jim Nicholson, was on course to be elected.
Jim Nicholson of the UUP was in third position after the first count with 83,438 votes. He was some 1,800 votes ahead of the SDLP’s Alex Attwood who came in fourth in terms of first preferences with 81,594 votes. The TUV leader won 75,806 votes.
While both Mr Attwood and Mr Allister were close to the vote achieved by Mr Nicholson it seemed unlikely that they could earn sufficient transfers to place them ahead of the UUP man in the later counts.
The turnout in this election at 51.84 per cent was almost ten percentage points higher than in 2009 when only 42.8 per cent of the electorate voted.
Sinn Fein’s percentage share of the vote at 25.5 per cent was down marginally by half a per cent. The DUP increased its vote by 2.7 per cent from 2009 when Ms Dodds was elected under the quota. The UUP share of the vote was down 2.7 per cent while the SDLP vote was down 3 percentage points.
Of the ten candidates Anna Lo for Alliance came sixth with 44,432 votes which was an increase of over 1.6 per cent. Henry Reilly of UKIP polled a creditable 24,584 votes while Ross Brown of the Greens won 10,598 votes, 45 votes ahead of Tina McKenzie of NI21, which is now in disarray. Mark Brotherston for the Conservatives was in tenth and last position with 4,144 votes.
NI21 leader Basil McCrea who is facing allegations of sexual misconduct from deputy leader John McCallister turned up at the count centre to show support to some of the NI21 candidates in the local elections who were at the King’s Hall count centre, including Johnny McCarthy who was elected in Lisburn as the party’s sole councillor.
Mr McCrea, who has strenuously denied the allegations, would make no comment on the current controversy apart from saying that he was instructed by his lawyer to say nothing because he is taking legal action. He refused to say who the legal action was against.
Turnout 51.84 per cent
Total Poll 636,093
Spoiled votes 9,968
Valid Poll 626,125
Jim Allister (TUV) 75,806
Martina Anderson (SF) 159,813
Alex Attwood (SDLP) 81,494
Mark Brotherston (Conservatives) 4,144
Ross Brown (Greens) 10,598
Diane Dodds (DUP) 131,163
Anna Lo (Alliance) 44,432
Tina McKenzie (NI21) 10,553
Jim Nicholson (UUP) 83,438
Henry Reilly (UKIP) 24,584