UK election: How the count will go in Northern Ireland

Contest for Sylvia Hermon’s seat in North Down likely to be first announced around 1am

The first results from Northern Ireland’s 18 constituencies are expected to start coming through from shortly after 1am. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The first results from Northern Ireland’s 18 constituencies are expected to start coming through from shortly after 1am. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

 

Political anoraks with an interest in Northern Ireland politics probably will have to stay up to after 4am on Friday morning before they know all the MPs that will be returned to sit – and not sit, as in the case of Sinn Féin – in the next House of Commons.

The first results from Northern Ireland’s 18 constituencies are expected to start coming through from shortly after 1am and barring recounts with the final seat is due to be declared sometime after 4am.

That is based on the pattern for the 2017 Westminster election when the first result announced was around 1.15am when Sylvia Hermon was returned in North Down and the last, Fermanagh South Tyrone when Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew was declared elected around 4.10am.

Lady Hermon is not standing this time, so there will be a change of representation in North Down. Therefore the initial focus for the Northern Ireland election may be on the Aurora Leisure Centre in Bangor where North Down and Strangford are being counted.

DUP leader Arlene Foster canvassing with Alex Easton, the party’s candidate for North Down. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
DUP leader Arlene Foster canvassing with Alex Easton, the party’s candidate for North Down. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The chief contestants in North Down are Alex Easton of the DUP, who came within 1,200 votes of Lady Hermon in 2017, Stephen Farry of Alliance and Alan Chambers of the Ulster Unionist Party.

The three other count centres are the Meadowbank Sports Arena in Magherafelt, Co Derry, the Omagh Leisure Complex in Co Tyrone and the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast.

After North Down and the Aurora centre the main attention might turn to the Meadowbank centre where eight constituencies are being counted – North Antrim, South Antrim, Mid Ulster, Upper Bann, Lagan Valley, Newry and Armagh, East Derry and hotly contested Foyle where outgoing Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion is under pressure from SDLP leader Colum Eastwood.

Again based on 2017 when Ms McCallion won the seat by 169 votes from former SDLP leader Mark Durkan that result could come in around 1.30am. There also will be keen interest in Meadowbank on South Antrim, a seat which the DUP and the UUP have held at various times over the past 20 years.

Between 2.30am and 3am the results from three other cockpit constituencies should be declared at the Titanic centre in Belfast where six constituencies are being counted, North Belfast, East Belfast, South Belfast, West Belfast, East Antrim and South Down.

Sometime over those 30 minutes it could be known whether DUP deputy leader and outgoing MP Nigel Dodds has held off the challenge of Sinn Féin’s John Finucane in North Belfast; whether Emma Little-Pengelly of the DUP has withstood the threat from Claire Hanna of the SDLP and Paula Bradshaw of Alliance in South Belfast; and whether Gavin Robinson of the DUP has held on against Alliance leader Naomi Long in East Belfast.

The 2,000 or so Electoral Office people involved in the counts and other work at the centres – again barring recounts – should have it all wrapped up sometime after 4am when Fermanagh South Tyrone is declared. Again the battle here is between Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew and Tom Elliott of the UUP.