A straightforward win for Margaret Ritchie. Her Sinn Féin opponent, Chris Hazzard was hyped as a serious challenger but ultimately he was a well-beaten docket.
Less than one thousand votes seperated three unionist candidates and Harold McKee UUP (a new name to me) overtook Jim Wells DUP. The loudest voice in Norn Iron’s UKIP franchise had a very respectable vote.
The story of this constituency was the drama surrounding Jim Wells.
At one level, it is possible to have sympathy for a man who has a seriously ill wife. On another level, there can be no sympathy for remarks made that were widely perceived as homophobic. Wells attempted to excuse this on the grounds of personal stress.
Wells was the big loser. He went into the Election as Minister for Health. And had to resign as a consequence of his remarks.
And 2016? Well…my default position is that the sixth seat in most cobstituencies is the problematic seat and the ghost at the table is the non-appearance on the ballot paper of John McCallister MLA, now Independent but a founder of NI21. Possibly some of his liberal unionist vote went to Martyn Todd of Alliance.
South Down is a constituency…currently two SDLP, two Sinn Féin, one DUP and one Independent (McCallister). It looks like two SDLP quotas, two Sinn Féin quotas, one unionist……and…..the sixth seat will go to either another unionist (more likely) or SDLP (less likely).