Sinn Fein return three seats in Newry and Armagh

There was never any doubt that Sinn Fein would return three seats in Newry and Armagh, the question was always going to be who would pick up the final two.

he party’s Finance Minister Conor Murphy broke home on the first count with 9,847 votes, 32 over the 9815 quota. His party colleague Cathal Boylan secured 9843 and the two were cheered back into their Assembly seats by supporters. Liz Kimmins was excepted to be elected before the night was out.

As the count began in Magherafelt’s Meadowbank Leisure Center the TUV’s Keith Ratcliffe was quietly confident he would be taking the seat from the DUP’s William Irwin. A dogfight continued throughout the afternoon and into the evening as the voting staff counted their ballots and both candidates claimed victory.

Three candidates – Alliance’s Jackie Coade, the SDLP’s Justin McNulty and Independent Gavin Malone – battled it out for the final seat and rode a rollercoaster of emotions as the results came in and one nosed into the lead and then fell behind. Gavin Malone was eliminated in early evening and Justin McNulty was quietly confident that he would keep the seat from Alliance’s Jackie Coade’s grasp as night fell.

Sinn Fein’s Conor Murphy, said that his win and Sinn Fein’s surge proved that “unionists now didn’t have the power to do what it wants”.

“It’s absolutely wonderful, hugely gratifying to be elected,” he said. “Because you go in front of the electorate all the time and to get their support, it’s a big, big challenge in any of these constituencies to hold three seats out of five. You need very significant support from the electorate, and we are very grateful to the people of Newry and Armagh.”

Mr Murphy, whose party election motto was ‘Time for Change’ outlined the change that was coming.

“There is a lot of change that can happen,” he said. “But firstly the political landscape is changing and I hope that the unionist parties will catch up with that. Because it is time, we can’t live in a situation where the only thing that the unionism can do is frustrate. It hasn’t got the power now to do what it wants. That’s what power sharing is about. None of us have the absolute power. We have to work together. We did demonstrate that during the pandemic and we need to get back to demonstrating that there are no vetoes for people, there is co-operation and collaboration in the interests of all the people that we serve.

“We’ll be at Stormont on Monday. We will want to work with other parties, and I have no doubt Michelle O’Neill will be reaching out to all the party leaders saying lets get together. We want to get all these issues resolved”.

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