South Antrim result: SF tops the poll in staunchly unionist constituency

Declan Kearney says political landscape of NI has changed ‘for the better’ in victory speech

A staunchly unionist constituency, Sinn Féin's Declan Kearney repeated his 2017 Assembly election performance and topped the poll in South Antrim.

Securing 20 per cent of the first-preference votes with 9,185 votes, he referred to his party’s success over the course of the day, saying a “historic Rubicon had been crossed”.

Delivering his victory speech in both English and Irish at the Jordanstown count centre podium, he added: “The political landscape of the North has changed.

“It has changed utterly and for the better . . . We said it was an election that would be the most important of a generation; an opportunity to elect a first minister for all.

"That message has been resoundingly endorsed not just here in South Antrim but right across the North of Ireland. "

Live results hub: View all the latest results for every constituency hereAs expected, the line-up in this constituency remains the same as last time.

The Democratic Unionist Party has traditionally secured more than 30 per cent of the vote in South Antrim Assembly polls, and its two incumbent MLAs Pam Cameron and Trevor Clarke were re-elected.

However, Mr Clarke did not meet the quota and took the final seat after 11.30pm.

The Alliance surge was evident again with incumbent John Blair safely securing the second seat, polling at 7,315 first-preference votes and then gaining more than 300 transfers.

Mr Blair said: “The mandate we have is inclusive politics – that represents our society.”

Praising party leader, Naomi Long, he added: "This is the result of a proper plan to progress more meaningful legislation and a determination of a promise to the people."

Former Ulster Unionist Party leader Steve Aiken, a former British royal navy submarine commander, was also deemed safe and took the third seat despite a difficult day for the party.

Meanwhile, a relieved Mr Clarke thanked those whose “perseverance” saw him re-elected in the final stretch: “I don’t smile much, but I might smile in the morning.”

Five seats filled: Declan Kearney (SF), John Blair (Alliance), Steve Aiken (UUP), Pam Cameron (DUP) and Trevor Clarke (DUP)

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