Former Mayor Elisha McCallion tops poll in Foyle spearheading Sinn Féin's best ever result in Derry

Elisha McCallion's stunning performance has headlined the best ever election result for the party in Derry.

Friday, 3rd March 2017, 3:02 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:52 am

The former Mayor, who was named on the Sinn Féin ticket after Martin McGuinness stood down from front-line politics due to ill health in January, was elected on the first count on Friday having smashed the 7,437 quota with her 9,205 (20.7 per cent) of all valid ballot papers.

Her transfers will shortly elect running mate Raymond McCartney who came in third in Foyle with 7,145 (16 per cent) of the poll.

Sinn Féin will be celebrating a massive increase in their tally from the Assembly Election in 2016.

They are now up to 16,350 (37 per cent) from 11,279 (28.5 per cent): their best performance ever in the constituency.

It's also been a good election for the SDLP, whose two seats look safe at this stage.

Party leader Colum Eastwood came in second with 7,240 (16 per cent), with Mark H. Durkan fourth with 6,948 (16 per cent).

The SDLP's combined share in Foyle is now up to 14,188 (32 per cent) from 11,897 (30 per cent) last year.

Significantly, Eamonn McCann of People Before Profit held his own, increasing his personal share from 4,176 (10.5 per cent) in May 2016 to 4,760 (10.7 per cent) in March 2016, but that may not be enough to see him returned again, with the Sinn Féin, the SDLP and Gary Middleton of the DUP, all likely to be the major beneficiaries from inter-bloc transfers.

Gary Middleton, of the DUP, increased his share of the vote from 4,737 (11.9 per cent) to 5,975 (13 per cent) and Julia Kee, of the UUP, was marginally up from 1,420 (3.6 per cent) last May to 1,660 (3.7 per cent) today.

But the total unionist vote in Foyle was actually down in percentage terms from 7,330 (18.4 per cent) to 7,635 (17 per cent) today.

That's just over the quota of 7,437 (16.7 per cent), which suggests Mr. Middleton won't reach it given the tradition of UUP voters transferring to the SDLP.

Mr. McCann now needs to hope to gain enough transfers from the soon-to-be-distributed Sinn Féin and SDLP surpluses, as well as from the lower polling Green, Shannon Downey (242), CISTA, John Lindsay (196), Conservative ,Stuart Canning (77) and Independent, Arthur McGuinness (44) candidates, in order to overhaul Mr. Middleton, who will ultimately gain most from the eventual elimination of Julia Kee.