Turnout in North’s local and EU elections could dip below 50%

Counting underway in 11 new council areas with Belfast and Derry recording highest turnout

Counting has begun in Northern Ireland after yesterday’s local and European elections. Photograph:  Rob Stothard/Getty Images

Counting has begun in Northern Ireland after yesterday’s local and European elections. Photograph: Rob Stothard/Getty Images

 

Turnout in the Northern Ireland council elections held yesterday could be below 50 per cent, according to early returns.

Counting is underway in 11 new council areas following the most extensive reform of local government in the North since 1973.

However with official turnout figures from just four of these councils now available, only in Belfast and Derry has more than half the electorate bothered to cast their vote.

Turnout in the European Parliament election, held on the same day, could be even lower.

While the turnout in the new, larger Belfast City Council area was recorded at 51 per cent, the equivalent for Mid and East Antrim was just under 48 per cent. The new council comprising Derry and Strabane has had an election turnout of 53 per cent.

The turnout in North Down and Ards was just 42 per cent.

With the other 10 councils still verifiying the votes, some counting has now begun and the first 14 seats have been called.

So far, the DUP has five councillors elected, the Ulster Unionists have four, Sinn Fein has three while both the SDLP and Alliance have one seat each.

The 11 new councils have a total of 462 seats, down from more than 580 last time.

Around half of the seats are expected to be allocated by late this evening with the remainder tomorrow.

Counting in the European Parliament elections begins on Monday morning. Northern Ireland is being treated as a single constituency with three-seats.

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