East Belfast: Alliance leader ‘hugely proud’ of momentous results

Naomi Long not triumphalist in speech as party representation more than doubles

"I am hugely proud of what Alliance has achieved," party leader Naomi Long said at the Titanic Exhibition Centre after the East Belfast count concluded on Saturday evening in the Northern Ireland Assembly elections.

In terms of constituency representation there was no change on the 2017 Assembly results – two Alliance, two DUP and one Ulster Unionist – but as far as Ms Long is concerned overall this is a momentous election for her party, with its representation so far more than doubled to 17 seats.

There was no triumphalism in her speech, however. Instead, Ms Long thanked all the people who needed to be thanked, including the count staff and her husband Michael, a Belfast councillor, and she again dedicated her win to her father-in-law Adrian Long, who died during the campaign.

“I will not let you down,” she pledged.


Joining her in East Belfast is colleague Peter McReynolds, who was elected on the ninth count. He spoke of the challenges ahead and of how, despite the current political uncertainty over whether the Executive and Assembly will be revived, that politicians should be "working and legislating together" at Stormont.

The DUP also held its two seats. First home for the party is outgoing MLA Joanne Bunting, and joining her is new MLA David Brooks, a Belfast City Councillor.

The fifth candidate elected was the UUP's Andy Allen, a British army veteran who lost both legs in the war in Afghanistan. He has served since 2015.

It was all very cordial and collegial as the five made their acceptance speeches. They pledged to work together for the people of East Belfast.

While in other constituencies there were accusations of posters being torn down and some candidates being intimidated in East Belfast, according to the DUP’s Ms Bunting it was a “clean campaign, it was a nice campaign, it was a fair campaign”.

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times