West Tyrone: Sinn Féin secure three seats with just one unionist returned

Former healthcare worker Nicola Brogan wins seat for first time after being co-opted in 2020

Sinn Féin made it three seats, and the SDLP made it three-in-a-row in West Tyrone.

Politically speaking at least, not much changes in the largely rural constituency stretching from Strabane in the northern tip of the county, down to Omagh.

And so it was on a sunny Saturday afternoon at the Magherafelt count centre, as Sinn Féin's veteran MLA for the area, Declan McAleer, took the fifth and final seat, which he has occupied for the last 10 years.

But it was his running mate Nicola Brogan who was first over the line on Friday evening, elected on 8,626 votes – comfortably over the 7,666 quota.


Brogan, a former healthcare worker from Omagh, won the seat for the first time, having been co-opted in 2020, after her predecessor Catherine Kelly resigned in a controversy over a Covid business grant.

In 2017, it was the SDLP’s Daniel McCrossan who took the fifth and final seat. Driving the A5 Derry-to-Dublin road issue in particular made it an easier journey for him this time around, coming in second.

It was good news for a party badly in need of it. McCrossan is also the first SDLP MLA to make three successive Assembly wins in the constituency.

The DUP's incumbent Tom Buchanan saw off a challenge by Traditional Unionist Voice candidate Trevor Clarke, who polled reasonably, to retain his seat – the only unionist among the five returned.

Maolíosa McHugh, a former mayor of Derry co-opted into the Assembly by Sinn Féin after losing his local council seat in 2019, helped his party retain a trio in West Tyrone.

Former Irish senator and Ulster Farmers' Union president Ian Marshall, standing for the UUP, was eliminated in the fourth round.

The first unionist to be elected to the Seanad would not have been helped by an interview he gave to The Irish Times last year, in which he declared the Northern Ireland Protocol was "here to stay" and that there was "no question" but that it promised benefits for trade and business.