South Belfast result: Alliance’s two-candidate strategy pays off at expense of Greens

Credible vote for former DUP leader Edwin Poots who was parachuted into the constituency

South Belfast was yet another constituency where the Alliance surge continued, this time at the expense of the Green Party leader in the North, Clare Bailey.

Some rather quizzical eyebrows were raised when Alliance strategists decided that outgoing party MLA Paula Bradshaw should have a running mate in Kate Nicholl.

But it paid off sweetly with Ms Bradshaw returned on the seventh count and Ms Nicholl on the next count, although in Ms Nicholl’s case without reaching the quota.

Ms Bailey who had worked assiduously to establish a Green foothold in South Belfast lost out by more than 900 votes. It was impressive vote management by Alliance.


Ms Bradshaw, reflecting the success of Alliance, said that campaigning was “very easy on the doors”.

Sinn Féin comfortably topped the poll with outgoing communities minister Deirdre Hargey elected on the first count with 9,511 votes , nearly 1,600 votes over quota.

Sadly, the outgoing DUP MLA Christopher Stalford died in February before the campaign proper kicked off.

The result was that a somewhat politically homeless Edwin Poots, who briefly served as DUP leader after Arlene Foster effectively was defenestrated, was parachuted into the constituency from his former home of Lagan Valley. Some felt more liberal South Belfast wasn’t natural territory for Mr Poots but he got out the DUP vote, taking a creditable 7,211 first preferences.

Again, the Traditional Unionist Voice Party with its candidate Andrew Girvin dug into the DUP vote taking 1,935 votes.

The SDLP ran two candidates, Co Laois woman Elsie Trainor and outgoing MLA Matthew O’Toole. Mr O’Toole, who gained 5,394 first preferences, won the seat with the aid of transfers from Ms Trainor’s first preference vote of 2,030.

Stephen McCarthy for the Ulster Unionists won 3,061 first preferences but never got close to threatening for a seat.

Five seats filled: Deirdre Hargey (SF), Edwin Poots (DUP) Matthew O'Toole (SDLP) , Paula Bradshaw (Alliance) Kate Nicholl (Alliance)

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times