Danny Kennedy bows out but election belongs to Sinn Fein

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Danny Kennedy bows out but election belongs to Sinn Fein thumbnailDanny Kennedy pictured at the count centre in Banbridge.

DANNY Kennedy says that he is unlikely to return to politics after he lost his seat in Friday's election count.
Mr Kennedy, an Ulster Unionist MLA since 1998, missed out to Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy in the battle for the last seat in the Newry and Armagh constituency.
Joining Mr Murphy are his Sinn Fein running mates, Cathal Boylan and Megan Fearon; SDLP candidate Justin McNulty and DUP man William Irwin.
His departure was one of the biggest nails in the coffin on a bad day for the UUP, which culminated in party leader, Mike Nesbitt, dramatically resigning while the count was still ongoing.
Mr Kennedy would have been considered a front runner to lead the party but defeat means that will not be possible.
Asked about speculation that Mr Nesbitt's comments about transferring to the SDLP could have damaged his position - something Mr Kennedy came out against in his own constituency, the former MLA said: "We will look at all these things within the party and within the party structures. It is the party that has given me any opportunity I have had in politics and I am still a loyal and dedicated member of the Ulster Unionist Party."
Mr Kennedy's own campaign had been hit by scandal when a fake letter, sent out in his name, told voters not to transfer to the DUP in contrast to his own message.
"The bogus letter is still under investigation and we will peruse that," he said.
But he added: "I'm not going to make excuses - when you are beaten you have to recognise that it can't be everyone else's fault.
"I have to look at how I might have behaved better or differently. When that Sinn Fein tide came in it was, as I predicted, likely to wash away one of the unionists seats and it's done that."
Asked about what his own next move would be, Mr Kennedy said that "we will have decisions to take about that", adding, "given the age and given the service I would say it's probably unlikely [that he will return to politics].
"It has been a huge honour and I have made a little go a long way."
He said it had been an honour to serve the people of the constituency, adding that his time in government was one of many highlights in a political career which spanned over 30 years.
"Politics is about doing things and achieving things and making a change in people's lives," the former UUP Deputy Leader said.
Turn to page 18


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