Tennyson takes final Upper Bann seat as Beattie hangs on to his after 'scrap'

Michael Scott

Reporter:

Michael Scott

Email:

michael.scott@yourlurgan.com

Upper Bann has its first Alliance MLA after Eoin Tennyson won the final seat in the constituency.

He will replace the SDLP’s Dolores Kelly after she was eliminated from the count on Friday evening.

The four other incumbents – Sinn Fein’s John O’Dowd, the DUP’s Jonny Buckley and Diane Dodds, and the UUP leader Doug Beattie - were all returned.

With the quota to be elected set at 9,531, Mr O’Dowd, who topped the poll with 9,242 first preference votes, was elected on count four.

Making his acceptance speech on Saturday afternoon in Magherafelt, he said voters in Upper Bann had sent a "clear message that they want power sharing to work"

He added, “Democracy is about respecting the democratic will of the people and we now have to move to respect the democratic will of the people, get the Executive back up and running and get money out to people who today are having to decide what their children can and can’t eat over the weekend in order to heat their homes.”

He also thanked running mate Liam Mackle who came close to taking the final seat in the constituency.

Mr Buckley used his speech to call for unionist unionity.

“Divided unionism cannot win elections,” he said after polling 8,869 votes.

“Now more than ever we must put differences aside and work together for the sake of the country that we all cherish. The union must comes first. Our country needs it and our people deserve it.”

His running mate Mrs Dodds, who was elected at stage six with Mr Buckley’s transfers, having polled 6,548 votes, vowed to work for everyone in the constituency.

In a challenge to the Prime Minister she added, “The challenge today to our government is that the protocol must go and we must deal with it if we are to have stable government in Northern Ireland. You can take that to Boris Johnson.”

Right up until the middle of Saturday morning it looked as though the UUP leader would lose his seat, but transfers from the TUV candidate Darrin Foster helped him get the fourth seat.

“It was tight to the wire,” he conceded.

“My heart is still pumping after it.

“As the leader of the UUP I am absolutely clear. Unionism needs to change course. We need to be more confident, we need to be more positive, we need to be more optimistic.

“We need to be unionists for every single person who shares this part of the United Kingdom. I will not be derailed. I will not change course. Working together is the only way we can make this place work.”

The final word went to one of Stormont’s newcomers and a benefactor of the so-called Alliance surge.

Mr Tennyson said he had always been told that politics in Upper Bann would always be orange and green.

“I think today we have smashed that narrative,” he said.

“I am incredibly grateful to all of the people, regardless of those labels, who have put their faith in me.

“Tackling the cost of living crisis and healing all of the problems within our community - that's what politics should be about. It is the honour and privilege of my life to be standing here today as the first Alliance MLA for Upper Bann.”


FIRST PREFERENCE VOTES: John O’Dowd (SF) 9,242, Jonathan Buckley (DUP) 8,869, Diane Dodds (DUP) 6,548, Doug Beattie (5,199), Eoin Tennyson (All) 6,440. Aidan Gribbin (Aontú) 571, Lauren Kendall (Greens) 459, Glenn Beattie (Heritage Party) 128, Dolores Kelly (SDLP) 3,645, Glenn Barr (UUP) 3,367, Darrin Foster (TUV) 4,373, Liam Mackle (SF) 7,260.

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