Former Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) leader Tom Elliott taught his former teacher a sore lesson in Fermanagh and South Tyrone – two into one does not go.
The party played a risky strategy running two candidates – Elliott and the outgoing MLA Rosemary Barton, who had held a seat at Stormont since 2016.
But despite hiking the party’s overall share by about 2,500 votes, there was not enough for both. Elliott effectively displaced Barton, who attracted 2,912 preferences to Elliott’s 5,442, to make a return to the political stage.
In doing so, the UUP lost its sole woman representative in the Assembly.
“Rosemary was a good supporter, she taught me at school for a period of time, and I have known her since then,” Elliott said afterwards, offering his commiserations to his former tutor.
Although he was looking forward to “re-establishing” himself, he warned of a “challenging time ahead” for politics in the North.
“I don’t know where things are going to go in the not-too-distant future,” he said.
Sinn Féin’s Jemma Dolan, who was returned on the first count on Friday night with 9,067 votes, was joined by party colleagues Colm Gildernew – older brother of the constituency MP Michelle Gildernew – and Aine Murphy on Saturday.
Gildernew and Murphy were facing the electorate for the first time, having both been co-opted to Stormont, and were elected on the eighth count.
It was as you were for the party, holding its three seats with almost 45 per cent of all first preferences. Sinn Féin took a third seat at the expense of the SDLP last time out in 2017.
Another Assembly election first-timer, the DUP’s Deborah Erskine who was co-opted to replace the party’s former leader Arlene Foster, won the fifth and final seat, without having reached the quota.
Five seats filled: Jemma Dolan (Sinn Féin), Tom Elliott (UUP), Colm Gildernew (Sinn Féin), Aine Murphy (Sinn Féin), Deborah Erskine (DUP).