No change in Waterside as count continues in Derry’s Guildhall

The Waterside electoral area returned three DUP, two SDLP, two Sinn Féin, and one Ulster Unionist Party representative when the votes were counted in the Guildhall yesterday evening.

The announcement was made by deputy returning officer John Meehan at 6.30pm in the lobby of the Guildhall after a long day of counting. It was the first formal declaration of who will make up the new membership of Derry City Council.

The councillors elected, in order of total first preference votes, were; Joe Miller DUP, Gerry Diver (SDLP), Lynn Fleming (Sinn Fein), April Garfield Kidd (DUP), Drew Thompson (DUP), Mary Hamilton (UUP) and Martin Reilly (SDLP).

The total number of votes polled in the Waterside electoral area was 8,359, of which 251 were rejected as being invalid. The quota for being elected was set at 1,014 and the turnout in the poll was 54 %. The DUP’s Joe Miller topped the poll with a total of 1,564 first preference votes and was elected on the first count. The SDLP’s Gerard Diver was also elected on the first count with a total of 1,198 first preference votes. As was Sinn Féin’s Lynn Fleming who received 1,137 first preferences.

DUP newcomer April Garfield Kidd, daughter of former DUP mayor of Derry, Mildred Garfield, was just eight votes below the quota on the first count and was elected on the second count following the distribution of Joe Miller’s surplus votes, bringing her tally to 1,312.6 votes.

Her surplus votes were then distributed at the next stage of counting, bringing her party colleague, Drew Thompson’s total to 1,277.12, and he was elected having met the quota.

His votes above tally were then distributed, with 97.52 going to veteran Ulster Unionist Mary Hamilton, and she was returned to Council. No one was elected on the next six stages of the count as the candidates with the lowest tallies were excluded and their votes redistributed accordingly. At the tenth stage of the counting process, the Deputy Returning Officer ruled that no more transfers would take place and the SDLP’s Martin Reilly was elected without having reached the quota.

Speaking after the declaration, the DUP’s Drew Thompson said it was a strong performance for unionism in the city. “I would like to thank all the people who have voted for us, It vindicates the work the DUP have done, not just today but for the last six years.

“We have shown that there are four unionist seats in the Waterside and we will endeavour to keep up the good work our party have done.

“I would also like to thank John Meehan and his team for their help and support. It was a long hard struggle but we got there,” he said.

Traditionally, DUP veteran Gregory Campbell always spoke at the declaration of the Waterside result but he did not contest the poll, choosing instead to focus on his Stormont and Westminster duties.

The SDLP’s Gerard Diver also thanked his supporters and the staff at the count centre. “I’m absolutely delighted that the SDLP have held the two seats. I’d like to thank everyone who gave their confidence to the party at this election. It was a good result and I want to thank everyone who made that possible.

“There will be a lot of work ahead of us in Council but we look forward to the challenge and we will be working with our party colleagues, and indeed with members of other parties in taking that work forward,” he said.

Newly returned Sinn Féin councillor Lynn Fleming said; “It has been a privilege and honour to serve the people of the Waterside for 14 years and I’m delighted that the people of the Waterside have returned a Sinn Féin councillor. That could not have happened without the hard work and support of my comrade and running colleague, Geraldine O’Donnell.

“With success comes responsibility and I appreciate the needs of the people of the Waterside. In the next four years I will work with people from all parties to ensure the people of the area get the level of services they need and deserve,” she said.

Ulster Unionist Alderman Mary Hamilton also paid tribute to the efforts of the counting teams at the Guildhall.

“I would like to thank everyone for their hard work and thank the people of the Waterside for their trust.

“I hope that over the next four years I can work with all councillors of Derry City Council for the benefit of all the people of Londonderry and its rural area,” she said.