Assembly Election 2022: Battle between Alliance and DUP building in South Down as Sinn Fein clinch first two seats

It’s been a case of deja vu for Sinn Fein’s Sinéad Ennis, after she topped the poll in South Down on the first count with 14,381 votes on a quota of 8,234.

In 2017, Ms Ennis clinched top place with 10,257 votes – meaning she increased her vote this time around by 4,125.

Her running mate, Cathy Mason, was also elected with 9,963 first preference votes.

The quota for the constitution is 9,159.

Meanwhile, Diane Forsythe of the DUP secured 6,497 votes, but still had not been elected by the second count.

Earlier, Edwin Poots, who launched a failed bid to stand in South Down, told the Belfast Telegraph that he had been communicating with party colleague and South Down candidate Diane Forsythe.

“I understand Diane’s doing well in South Down and her team, and they’re pretty happy with the result that they’re getting. Obviously, it’s been a difficult campaign for her.”

He also addressed former party colleague Jim Wells, who resigned from the DUP after 46 years after he was deselected, and then backed TUV candidate Harold McKee. Other DUP members in South Down have quit the party.

“I indicated a couple of weeks ago that I was disappointed that Jim left the party. I was disappointed good colleagues over the years left the party. But I believe Diane will win that seat,” he said.

With Sinn Fein taking the first two seats in South Down, attention now turns to Ms Forsythe and Alliance’s Patrick Brown who both polled 6,497 and 6,942 first preference results respectively. The initial results are tighter than what the DUP would have hoped for, and could see Alliance bolster its performance overall in the elections.

The remaining ten candidates are still in the race: Patrick Brown – Alliance Party, Patrick Clarke – Independent, Diane Forsythe – DUP, Noeleen Lynch – Green Party, Jill MacAuley – UUP, Paul McCrory – People Before Profit, Rosemary McGlone – Aontu, Colin McGrath – SDLP, Harold McKee – TUV and Karen McKevitt – SDLP.

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