New faces but no change in Foyle constituency

It was a case of ‘as you were’ in the Foyle constituency in terms of the number of seats held by each party but some of the faces have changed.

The counting process began at Lisneal College with the verification of votes at 9am on Friday morning and ended with the final declaration being made by the Deputy Returning Officer, Patricia Murphy, at 5pm yesterday after 22 hours of counting. As in 2007, voters in Foyle returned three SDLP, two Sinn Féin, and one DUP MLA to Stormont to sit in the next Assembly.

The total votes cast in the Assembly election in Foyle was 39,686 out of a possible 68,663, 839 of those rejected by the counters. The quota for being elected was set at 5550 and the turnout in the poll was 57 per cent, down nine per cent on the 2007 figure.

DUP MLA William Hay repeated his 2007 performance by topping the poll and becoming the first Foyle candidate to be elected on Friday night receiving 7,154.

Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson was also elected on the first count with 6,950, the first time a candidate from her party has done so in Foyle.

New SDLP MLA Mark Durkan was elected on the fourth count while his party colleagues Colum Eastwood and Pat Ramsey, together with Sinn Féin’s Raymond McCartney had to wait until the seventh and final count to be elected.

All the newly elected MLAs thanked the staff at the polling stations and count centre for their efforts since Thursday, particularly during the long counting process at Lisneal.

Mr Hay said: “I congratulate all those elected and look forward to working with them on the many issues that face this constituency here in Foyle.

“To top the poll is a huge success and sends out the right message to our party and supporters.”

Ms Anderson said: “The people of Derry wanted leadership and I believe that is what Sinn Féin can give them.

“Almost 400,00 people across Ireland have given their first preference votes to Sinn Féin this year and we thank the people of Derry, and elsewhere for that.

“We promise not to let you down.”

Newly elected SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan said: “I am looking forward to playing my part in the SDLP team in Foyle in fighting for a better service for people from Derry and to being part of the Foyle team of all MLAs for the city who will be working hard to make sure the voices of all of the people of the city are heard at Stormont.”