Alliance’s two-candidate strategy pays off at Greens’ expense
South Belfast was yet another constituency where the Alliance push continued, this time at the expense of Green Party leader in the North, Clare Bailey.
Some rather questioning eyebrows were raised when Alliance strategists decided the party’s outgoing MP Paula Bradshaw should have a running mate in Kate Nicholl.
But it paid off with Ms Bradshaw returning on the seventh count and Ms Nicholl on the next count, albeit in Ms Nicholl’s case not hitting the quota.
Ms Bailey, who had worked diligently to establish a green foothold in south Belfast, lost more than 900 votes. That was impressive vote management by Alliance.
Ms Bradshaw, reflecting on Alliance’s success, said the campaign was “very easy on the gates”.
Sinn Féin came comfortably ahead of the poll with outgoing Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey elected at the first count with 9,511 votes, almost 1,600 votes above the quota.
Sadly, incumbent DUP MP Christopher Stalford died in February before the actual campaign began.
The result was that a somewhat politically homeless Edwin Poots, who briefly served as leader of the DUP after Arlene Foster was defenestrated, was parachuted into the constituency from his former home in Lagan Valley. Some thought the more liberal south Belfast was not natural territory for Mr Poots, but he secured the DUP vote, with 7,211 honorable first preferences.
Live Results Centre: view all the latest results for each constituency here
Once again, the Traditional Unionist Voice Party with its candidate Andrew Girvin dug in the DUP vote by garnering 1,935 votes.
The SDLP fielded two candidates, Co Laois’ wife Elsie Trainor and incumbent MP Matthew O’Toole. Mr O’Toole, who secured 5,394 first preferences, won the seat on transfers from Ms Trainor’s first preference vote of 2,030.
Stephen McCarthy for Ulster Unionists won 3,061 first preferences but never came close to threatening for a seat.
Five seats provided: Deirdre Hargey (SF), Edwin Poots (DUP) Matthew O’Toole (SDLP), Paula Bradshaw (Alliance) Kate Nicholl (Alliance)