No change in South East Ulster

South Down / Newry and Armagh Round up by Ciarán Dunbar

It was the election campaign that seemed to go on forever but whilst the results in Newry and Armagh and South Down were never really in doubt there certainly were talking points.

The introduction of GAA star Justin McNulty to the political field in Newry and Armagh surprised many but there is no doubt it did inspire his party.

In the end it was too high a ball for the novice to field but he gave a spirited performance and increased the SDLP vote by 2,000 votes.

But there are still doubts over his political future following comments to Q Radio in the after the result in which he seemed non-committal.

He told Q Radio’s Peter Taggart he is “very disappointed” with the result.

Sinn Féin’s Mickey Brady romped to victory in that seat last night adding 2,000 votes to the Sinn Féin majority.

But despite that he is clear – he will not be sitting on the green benches.

The gap between Sinn Féin and the SDLP was 8,462 votes – a slight increase.

That is despite Mickey Brady being a new candidate for Sinn Féin.

But he was only 4,000 votes or so in front of the joint unionist candidate, Danny Kennedy who got just over 16,300 votes.

The SDLP’s Justin McNulty was in third with just over 12,000 votes.

Turnout figures are in for Newry & Armagh and it’s 64.76% – significantly up from last time round.

**

Jim Wells provided the main talking point in South Down.

He was at the centre of a political storm prior to the Westminster poll due to his comments linked same-sex couples and child-abuse.

But the controversy does not seem to have affected his vote.

He polled 3,486 votes – a mere 158 less than in 2010.

He was beaten however into 4th place by the UUP’s Harold McKee.

But the seat was always the SDLP’s Margaret Ritchies.

“Its all down to hard work” – she revealed the recipe to her political success

Her vote was down by 6.1% but it was still a resounding victory.

Interestingly she was quick to point out that in her view her vote put an end the the “myth” that unionists vote for her tactically to keep Sinn Féin out.

Despite losing to the SDLP by a margin of 5,891 Sinn Féin’s Chris Hazzard says he is not disappointed with how Sinn Féin performed in South Down

His share was slightly down – as was the SDLP’s – but he didn’t manage to get more votes than Caitríona Ruane got in 2010 as some had expected.

**

Upper Bann MP David Simpson claims his family suffered online abuse during the election campaign.

And there was uproar when the DUP man directed his comments towards rival unionists in the count centre in Banbridge…

**

In other electoral news Camlough man Conor McGinn ‏has won a seat for St Helens North in England for the Labour Party.

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