Election 2015 Northern Ireland

Election 2015: Sinn Féin loses Fermanagh and South Tyrone

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Media captionTom Elliott said a unionist winning the seat of Fermanagh and South Tyrone represented a great victory for unionism

Sinn Féin has lost Fermanagh and South Tyrone to the Ulster Unionists, in one of the biggest upsets of the general election in Northern Ireland.

All 18 seats have now been declared with eight DUP, four Sinn Féin, three SDLP, two Ulster Unionists and one independent elected.

The Democratic Unionist Party regained the East Belfast seat lost five years ago by its party leader.

The Ulster Unionists have two MPs, after taking South Antrim from the DUP.

In the last parliament, the UUP had no representation.

The party's new MP in Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Tom Elliott, said he was delighted to have taken the seat from Sinn Féin's Michelle Gildernew.

His constituency was one of four where there was a pact between the UUP and DUP, the two main unionist parties in Northern Ireland.

Mr Elliott had a majority of 530 votes.


BBC NI Political Editor Mark Devenport

After five years in the Westminster wilderness, the Ulster Unionists are the comeback kids of this election. Mike Nesbitt's strategy had seemed risky - asking his supporters to back the DUP in some seats, but taking their old rivals head on elsewhere.

But in the end the gamble paid off with two new Ulster Unionist MPs the reward.

The DUP compensated for the loss of Willie McCrea by recapturing East Belfast. Alliance may find solace in Naomi Long's increased vote, but in a first past the post election, winning is all that counts.

That's the same reality facing Michelle Gildernew, unable to defend the most marginal seat against the UUP.

With the Conservatives on course for a narrow majority, Northern Ireland's MPs won't be kingmakers. But the 11 unionists and 3 SDLP could still play an intriguing role in what remains a finely balanced House of Commons.

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Media captionPeter Robinson: "The union is going to be under pressure from Scottish nationalists"

After his party's victory, Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said: "After the local government [election] last year I took my blank page for this campaign and what I wanted at number one was to win back for unionism, off Sinn Féin, the most westerly constituency in the United Kingdom, because that sends out a massive positive message to unionism."

DUP leader Peter Robinson said: "I trust that our two parties, the Ulster Unionist Party and the Democratic Unionist Party, can work in the interests of the union at Westminster, because the union is going to be under pressure from Scottish nationalists.

"Of course we will act responsibly, as a unionist I obviously want to see the interests of the United Kingdom moving forward and of course as someone from Northern Ireland I want to see it happening in the best interests of the people of Northern Ireland."

Unionist pact

Newly elected UUP Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP Tom Elliott said: "This is not a green constituency. It doesn't belong to Bobby Sands.

"It belongs to the people of Fermanagh and South Tyrone and that is who I intend to represent."

Ms Gildernew thanked those who voted for her party.

"I believe that vote represents people of all faiths and none and I am proud and humbled to have been chosen by those people in Fermanagh South Tyrone," she said.

Her party leader Gerry Adams said Sinn Féin had consolidated its vote.

"In many constituencies we faced a unionist pact held together by opposition to change, opposition to equality and in support of a union that is imposing austerity," he said.

DUP regain the East

In East Belfast, the DUP's Gavin Robinson ousted Naomi Long of Alliance. The constituency was part of the unionist pact.

Mr Robinson, who polled 19,575, said: "I'm delighted that the last five long years are over."

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Media captionThe DUP's Gavin Robinson said there is a "new dawn" in East Belfast

Ms Long, who got 16,978 votes, described her term as MP as a "roller coaster".

Her colleague, Stephen Farry said: "Obviously we're very disappointed for Naomi personally and obviously we would have liked to win the (East Belfast) seat, but overall the results are actually very good for Alliance.

"We've actually had our biggest ever share of the vote in Northern Ireland in any election since 1992, almost 25 years.

"In virtually every constituency, indeed I think in every constituency across Northern Ireland, our share of the vote went up."

First UUP seat in five years

In South Antrim, Ulster Unionist Danny Kinahan, who is a cousin of the Irish singer Chris de Burgh, ousted Willie McCrea of the DUP.

Mr Kinahan put his victory down to "hard work and the people of South Antrim putting their faith in me".

"I think they wanted somebody who was from the patch, who was here all the time and they wanted change," he said.

"I think there was a mood here in South Antrim to have someone different and a different approach to how politics is done."

It was the first shock result of the night in Northern Ireland.

The defeated candidate, Mr McCrea, was first elected as an MP in 1983.

Image caption A bit of note taking of the results in West Belfast during the overnight count

The first result of the night was Lagan Valley with Jeffrey Donaldson holding his seat for the DUP with 19,055 votes.

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Media captionNaomi Long described her term as MP as a "rollercoaster"

Mark Durkan, SDLP, was returned in Foyle with 17,725 votes and Pat Doherty, Sinn Féin, was returned in West Tyrone with 16,806 votes.

Ian Paisley, DUP, retained his North Antrim seat with 18,107 votes.

Jim Shannon, DUP, was returned in Strangford with 15,053 votes while Lady Sylvia Hermon, independent, retained her seat in North Down.

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Media captionSinn Féin's Pat Doherty said "happiness is winning or re-winning West Tyrone for Sinn Féin".

David Simpson, DUP, has held his seat in Upper Bann, with 15,430 votes. It was a constituency targeted by the Ulster Unionist's Jo-Anne Dobson who polled 13,166.

Sammy Wilson of the DUP was re-elected in East Antrim. Paul Maskey was re-elected for Sinn Féin in West Belfast.

Nigel Dodds held the North Belfast seat for the DUP with 19,096 votes, the fourth time he was re-elected.

He said it was the "biggest ever vote for the Democratic Unionist Party in North Belfast".

Image caption Francie Molloy held his seat for Sinn Féin in Mid Ulster

However, he described the election campaign in North Belfast as "one of the nastiest" in which he had been involved.

The UUP also stood aside in this constituency as part of its electoral pact with the DUP.

The DUP's Simon Hamilton said the pact had been a success.

"I think the big message coming out of this election is that it's a great result for unionism," he said.

"The pact has been successful in that it has increased unionist representation in the House of Commons by two seats."

In South Belfast, Alasdair McDonnell, SDLP, retained his seat with 9,560 votes. Francie Molloy held his seat for Sinn Féin in Mid Ulster polling 19,935.

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Media captionSDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell has said he feels "proud, honoured and humbled" at being re-elected as MP

The Electoral Reform Society said South Belfast had "broken the record for the lowest ever vote share for a winning party, with the SDLP securing 24.5% of the vote".

In East Londonderry, the DUP's Gregory Campbell was re-elected with 14,663 votes.

Image caption Margaret Ritchie said it was a "myth" that her party needed loaned unionist votes

The SDLP's Margaret Ritchie regained her seat in South Down with 18,077 votes. She said it was a "myth" that her party needed loaned unionist votes.

She also said the result proved there was "a solid SDLP majority in the constituency".

The last result of the night was Mickey Brady who won Newry and Armagh for Sinn Féin with 20,488 votes.

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Media captionUlster Unionist's Danny Kinahan has said it is an "immense privilege" to have been elected

There were a total of 138 candidates in Northern Ireland and 1.2m people were eligible to vote.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Nigel Dodds and his wife, Diane, arrived at the count centre in upbeat mood
Image caption Journalists gathered to hear turnout in West Tyrone
Image caption Lady Sylvia Hermon, North Down, about to go live on the BBC

Counting took place in eight different centres.

Image caption More ballot boxes arrive at the count centre: 75 boxes in the Foyle count and 76 in the East Londonderry count
Image caption Official statistics have been revealed for the Foyle constituency

Overall, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) stood in 16 constituencies while the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) stood in 15.

Sinn Féin, the SDLP and the Alliance Party stood in all 18 constituencies.

Image caption Omagh Leisure Centre was the venue for the West Tyrone and Fermanagh and South Tyrone counts

The Green Party ran five candidates and UKIP ran in 10 seats.

Seven Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) candidates were selected.

The Conservative Party ran in 16 seats. The Workers Party fielded candidates in five constituencies.

People Before Profit fielded a candidate in West Belfast and CISTA contested four constituencies.

There were five independent candidates.

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