North Belfast: Routing of SDLP a gift for Alliance’s Nuala McAllister

Four other seats a case of as you were – with two SF and two DUP candidates returned

In what was a bad day overall for the SDLP, the party had a particularly bad one in North Belfast, where the party's deputy leader and outgoing minister for infrastructure, Nichola Mallon, lost her seat.

She was beaten by Nuala McAllister of Alliance, whose party was having a great day overall. The gain by Ms McAllister – a former lord mayor of Belfast – had been one of her party’s key targets, and was symptomatic of a trend which saw Alliance gain ground mainly at the expense of other middle-ground parties.

Ms McAllister polled almost 800 first preference votes more than Ms Mallon. By the eighth count she had caught up to within 100 votes, but transfers from eliminated candidates Mal O'Hara (Green Party), Fiona Ferguson (People Before Profit) and Julie-Anne Corr-Johnston (UUP) brought Ms McAllister home – though by less than 400 votes in the end.

In her acceptance speech, Ms McAllister paid tribute to Ms Mallon’s work in her constituency, adding: “I know we haven’t seen the end of Nichola Mallon.”


Ms Mallon was not at the count to explain where she thought the campaign had gone wrong, but instead tweeted a photograph of herself at home with her three children. “Time for a new chapter and lots and lots of time with these three,” she said.

The other four seats were a case of as you were in terms of party representation, with two Sinn Féin and two DUP representatives returned.

Gerry Kelly and Carál Ní Chuilín, both party veterans, were comfortably re-elected on the first count with 8,395 and 7,932 first-preference votes respectively, in Ms Ní Chuilín's case a resounding answer to pre-election rumours that she might be in difficulty.

On the part of the DUP there was a change in personnel, with Philip Brett and Brian Kingston elected in place of party colleagues who had chosen not to run again.

Mr Brett dedicated his work to his late father and his late brother, who was killed by loyalist paramilitaries in 2001, and who he said represented what he wanted to deliver in north Belfast.

Freya McClements

Freya McClements

Freya McClements is Northern Editor of The Irish Times