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SF’s Brady tops Newry and Armagh MP poll once again

Thursday, 15 June 2017

SINN Féin's Mickey Brady has hailed his re-election as MP for Newry and Armagh as a "decisive show of support for continued opposition to Brexit and brutal Tory austerity in Ireland".

In last week's Westminster elections, Mr Brady increased his vote by over 5,000 since the last General Election poll, with 25,666 voters backing him this time around, making his percentage share of the vote 47.9 per cent.

Voter turnout was 68.5 per cent, with 53,900 voters out of an electorate of 78,266 visiting ballot boxes across the constituency, and the Sinn Fein member, who is an absentee MP, hailed his victory as a "historic republican mandate" to fight Brexit and "Tory austerity".

Second in the poll was the DUP's William Irwin who received 13,177 votes with 24.6 percent of the vote share, followed by the SDLP's Justin McNulty (9,055) - who also came third in the March Stormont election - with the UUP's Sam Nicholson in fourth place (4,425) and Alliance Party member, Jackie Coade in last place with 1,256 votes - a jump up from 841 two years ago when AP candidate Katie Nicholl stood locally.

It was then arguably, the UUP and SDLP - reflecting the overall picture across the province - who suffered the biggest losses this time around. Both suffered a significant slump when compared to 2015 when Danny Kennedy, standing as a single unionist candidate with no competition from the DUP, attracted 16, 312 votes for the UUP and Mr McNulty achieved 12,026 SDLP votes.

With a gap of nearly 12,500 votes between Mr Brady and Mr Irwin, the former declared it was his party's "positive and progressive campaign" that "captured the minds of voters across Newry and Armagh, who have made it clear that politics at Westminster has no role in their lives".

"Citizens in this constituency want political change decided on the island of Ireland. This mandate is also a resounding statement that they wish to see an Executive up and running immediately, but only if based on integrity, mutual respect, and equality for all," said Mr Brady.

"Sinn Féin secured an unstoppable momentum for transformative progressive change and for Irish unity following the success the Assembly election in March. The appetite for a new, agreed and united Ireland has never been stronger in Newry and Armagh and voters have once again asserted this desire in overwhelming numbers at the ballot box."

The outcome between Sinn Féin and the DUP was reversed in Upper Bann, however, where the latter's David Simpson clinched the top spot with 22,317 votes, taking 43.5 per cent of the share. In second place was Sinn Féin's John O'Dowd with 14,325 (27.9 per cent); the only other Upper Bann candidate to increase their vote share was the Alliance's Tara Doyle who attracted 2,319 votes, a 0.8 per cent increase from 2015. Third place went to the UUP's Doug Beattie (7,900 votes) and fourth to the SDLP's Declan McAlinden who received 4,397.

Province-wide, Newry and Armagh was one of seven constituencies that went to Sinn Féin, while Upper Bann was one of ten that voted for the DUP, results that virtually wiped out the "middle ground", a consequence that was acknowledged by Mr McNulty, who in a statement thanking his supporters and those who voted for him, explained; "Today [June 8] has been a difficult day for the middle ground in northern politics. We have lost very capable, articulate and hard working representatives in Mark Durkan, Margaret Ritchie and Alasdair McDonnell. These individuals have given so much, and despite our vote increasing in each of those constituencies it just wasn't enough.

"Whilst I am hurt for Margaret, Mark and Alasdair on a personal level, I am saddened for the people of these constituencies, as we now have no Irish nationalist voice in parliament for the first time in generations. All reports point to a Tory / DUP government in some form. One which cares little about this place and has no understanding of the impact Brexit will have on border communities."

Offering his congratulations to Mr Brady, he added, "Finally, I want to pay tribute to my determined team and family, who armed with a very positive message, made an extraordinary effort throughout the campaign."

Mr Brady's abstentionist position was also highlighted by Councillor Sam Nicholson, recently elected as Deputy Lord Mayor for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon council, who said following the results; "Once again I am very disappointed that Newry and Armagh has elected an abstentionist MP which means that the people of Newry and Armagh since 2005 do not have a voice in Westminster. Which in my opinion is so important because of the up and coming Brexit negotiations.

"This was my first Newry and Armagh election as a single candidate, and I am delighted by my result. I would like to thank every single person who considered me and then actually went to the polling station to vote for me. Your vote is truly appreciated and I am honoured that each of you put your faith in me."

Mr Nicholson added, "I will continue to work hard for the whole local community as a Councillor and as your Deputy Lord Mayor promoting the borough both locally and beyond."  

The DUP's strengthened position province-wide was underlined by Mr Irwin, who in a statement thanking the public for their "tremendous support", said, " "I am very pleased with the DUP result across the province and it is very clear that the last election in March was a wake-up call for Unionism and indeed that wake-up call was heeded and the unionist electorate have responded in huge numbers rallying behind the DUP.

"I am overwhelmed by the support I have received from the public over this election period and I am indebted to all 13,177 voters who endorsed my candidature in this snap election. I want to sincerely thank each and every voter who placed their 'X' beside my name and I can assure the electorate that I will continue to work hard for everyone in Newry and Armagh."

Mr Irwin added, "The DUP province wide polled 292,316 votes and with this significant mandate our DUP MP's will go to the House of Commons, take our seats and speak loud and clear for Northern Ireland.

 "We do not take this huge mandate for granted and I know we will be doing everything we can to repay the trust that has been placed in our party. The result was an important result for the Union right across the UK and it has sent a very clear message to those who seek to dismantle the Union that they will not succeed."

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