Belfast South: DUP’s Emma Little Pengelly unseats SDLP stalwart

Alasdair McDonnell pledges to work with victor for the good of the constituency

Emma Little Pengelly has won the Belfast South Westminster seat for the DUP, unseating SDLP stalwart Dr Alasdair McDonnell.

Ms Little Pengelly paid tribute to Dr McDonnell and spoke of the hard work he had put into the constituency over decades and as an MP since 2005. She also paid tribute to her campaign manager, former first minister Peter Robinson, for coming out of political retirement to help her get elected, and said she would work for everyone in the constituency, regardless of party allegiance.

“I will fight my hardest to represent you all to the best of my abilities,” she said. The DUP received 13,299 votes, just under 2,000 votes more than the SDLP’s 11,303.

The SDLP and Sinn Féin could not agree on an electoral pact ahead of the poll and therefore votes were split across the constituency, leaving it open for the DUP win.

Sinn Féin candidate Mairtin Ó Muilleoir received 7, 143 votes, Alliance's Paula Bradshaw received 7,946 and Green Party deputy leader Clare Bailey received 2,241.

Dr McDonnell wished Ms Little Pengelly well and pledged to work with her for the good of the constituency, which voted to remain in the EU last year.

“I welcome her very positive remarks that she will attempt to represent all of us in South Belfast.

"I am particularly concerned about the fact that South Belfast was very substantially pro-Remain and wishes to ensure that whatever sort of Brexit comes out . . . Northern Ireland needs a good relationship, a strong relationship with Europe. "

Previous Westminster elections

2010 – Alasdair McDonnell (SDLP) defeated DUP's Jimmy Spratt (14,026 votes to 8,100)

2015 – Dr McDonnell beat DUP's Jonathan Bell (9,560 to 8,654).