DUP and Sinn Fein hold positions as leading parties
Published 08/05/2011 | 05:00
Peter Robinson emerged as the big winner in the North's Assembly elections as the final results were being declared late last night.
The DUP leader, who a year ago was ousted from his long held East Belfast Westminster seat, led his party to a triumphant position as clearly the largest party in the North.
While recording a high personal vote in East Belfast and being elected on the first count he also led the DUP to top the poll with 38 seats.
In contrast, the Ulster Unionist Party's share of the vote slumped to 16 as its leader Tom Elliott became involved in a heated personal exchange with Sinn Fein supporters who he labelled "scum" at the end of the count in Omagh.
Sinn Fein also performed well securing 29 seats to the 14 won by rivals the SDLP. The Alliance Party took 8; the raditional Unionist Voice won one seat; the Green Party also took one and there was also one independent seat.
The results mean that Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party have confirmed their positions as the two largest political parties in the North and have consolidated their joint grip on power.
First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness were both elected on the first counts in their East Belfast and Mid Ulster constituencies, with McGuinness polling 8,957.
The DUP remains the largest political party in the North with a 30 per cent share of the vote, shading Sinn Fein with its 26.9 per cent share of the poll. The SDLP came next with 14.2 per cent of the poll with the Ulster Unionist Party slipping down into fourth place with just 13.2 per cent.
The moderate Alliance Party performed well in the Assembly election securing 7.7 per cent of the vote but former DUP man Jim Allister's Traditional Unionist Voice Party picked up just 2.5 per cent of the vote. Mr Allister was elected in North Antrim.
The demands of simultaneously conducting elections for the North's 26 district councils and a poll on the voting method used in UK elections caused major delays to the counting of the Assembly election votes.
Other major figures like the DUP's Gregory Campbell and Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew also held their seats. The SDLP's leader Margaret Ritchie and the party's other Westminster MP Alasdair McDonnell retained their seats but the party overall didn't fare as well as it had hoped against the Sinn Fein voting machine.
Peter Robinson's victory in East Belfast -- polling 9,141 votes -- was a personal triumph after he was dumped as the constituency's Westminster MP last year by the electorate following revelations that his wife Iris had been conducting an affair behind his back with a 21 year-old man.
Alban Maginness of the SDLP was elected in North Belfast yesterday afternoon but party stalwart Tommy Gallagher lost his seat in the Fermanagh South Tyrone constituency. In North Belfast, veteran Ulster Unionist Fred Cobain lost his seat.
Mark H Durkan, the nephew of the party's former leader Mark Durkan, was elected in his old Foyle seat earlier in the day.