East Derry: long night ahead for candidates
All eyes will be on DUP veteran Gregory Campbell tonight at the East Derry count in Foyle Arena, with the DUP stalwart hot favourite to be returned for the constituency.
Ballot ballots were being transferred from across the constituency to Foyle Arena in Derry where the count is due to get under way over the coming hours.
Six candidates have thrown their hats in the ring for the Westminster seat, and all have been canvassing hard across the region since the snap election was called by Theresa May back in April.
The candidates who’ve entered the race to take the East Derry seat are Gregory Campbell (DUP); Richard John Holmes (UUP); Chris McCaw (Alliance); Dermot Nicholl (Sinn Féin); Stephanie Quigley (SDLP); and Liz St Clair-Legge (Conservatives).
Dermot Nicholl, Richard Holmes and Stephanie Quigley are sitting councillors on Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council.
Few shocks are expected in East Derry with Gregory Campbell hoping to retain the seat he has held since defeating the UUP’s William Ross in the 2001 General Election.
The DUP man held the seat in the 2015 General Election with a vote of 14,663, well ahead of the second-placed candidate, Sinn Féin’s Caoimhe Archibald who received 6,859 votes.
The UUP’s William McCandless polled 5,333 while the SDLP’s Gerry Mullan polled 4,268 votes.
Even if one nationalist candidate had stood in East Derry, they were still unlikely to come close to overtaking Campbell’s huge lead, based on the previous turnout.
At the Assembly election back in March, turnout for East Derry stood at 62.7% and it remains to be seen whether the various candidates and their party teams will be able to enthuse local people enough to make any gains or even sustain that three months on.