The DUP’s Paul Givan has said it’s now “time to get on with the job” after he topped the poll in Lagan Valley - just as he did in last year’s Assembly election.
Mr Givan polled 8,035 first preference votes this time around - almost 1,200 more than his nearest challenger, the UUP’s Robbie Butler (6,846) - and was the only candidate to make quota on the first count.
“Obviously I am personally very pleased to have got the endorsement once again from the constituency and the people of Lagan Valley,” Mr Givan said.
“This was an election that we didn’t want, but we had to go out and fight in the middle of winter. There was many an evening when the rain was lashing, the wind was howling but we had to get out there and we did. We put our vote up in Lagan Valley, but there has been a higher turnout right across the constituency and that is obviously why the last seat is too close to call at this stage.”
Mr Givan claimed that while the RHI debacle was an issue on the doorsteps, a bigger talking point for people was UUP leader Mike Nesbitt’s comment about transferring his vote to the SDLP.
“People could see that Sinn Fein called this election to damage unionism, to exploit the opportunities that RHI presented and Mike Nesbitt played into all of that by calling on Arlene (Foster) to resign and Sinn Fein seized on that. They knew this was an opportunity for them to try and resolve issues in their own constituencies,” he said.
Stressing that it’s now time for politicians to “get on with the job”, he continued: “Whether it’s housing, roads, the normal community issues, I always fight hard for the people of Lagan Valley as well as representing them at Stormont and dealing with issues across the Province.”
Thanking his party supporters and campaign workers, the delighted DUP man added: “This was a challenging election and there were a lot of people who needed to make their minds up. They listened to the message that we took to them on the doorstep and when it came to polling day they came through for us and I want to say thank you to them.”
Along with Mr Butler, Alliance’s Trevor Lunn and the DUP’s Edwin Poots also polled more than 6,000 votes and all three look certain to retain their Stormont seats.
The battle for the fifth seat looks set to be a scrap between the DUP’s Brenda Hale and UUP’s Jenny Palmer, with SDLP man Pat Catney still in with an outside chance if transfers go his way.
The full first preference vote was as follows:
Total ballots counted 45,440; valid papers 45,069; quota 7,512. Turnout: 62.57 per cent
Dan Barrios-O’Neill (Green Party NI) - 912
Robbie Butler (UUP) - 6,846
Pat Catney (SDLP) - 3,795
Peter Doran (Sinn Fein) - 1,801
Paul Givan (DUP) - 8,035
Keith Gray (Independent) - 76
Brenda Hale (DUP) - 4,566
Trevor Lunn (Alliance) - 6,105
Samuel Morrison (TUV) - 1,389
Jonny Orr (Independent) - 856
Jennifer Palmer (UUP) - 4,492
Edwin Poots (DUP) - 6,013
Matthew Robinson (NI Conservatives) - 183