DUP and SF secure seats in North Belfast

Democratic Unionist MP Nigel Dodds, and Sinn Féin's policing spokesperson Gerry Kelly became the third and fourth Assembly members to be elected in the North's Assembly elections today, both capturing seats in North Belfast.

Democratic Unionist MP Nigel Dodds, and Sinn Féin's policing spokesperson Gerry Kelly became the third and fourth Assembly members to be elected in the North's Assembly elections today, both capturing seats in North Belfast.

The DUP was hopeful that its vote management strategy would pay dividends in a number of six-seater constituencies.

In Ian Paisley’s heartland of North Antrim, party members were predicting that Deidre Nelson could capture a fourth seat at the expense of the SDLP’s Declan O’Loan, husband of the North's Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan.

In Strangford, Peter Robinson’s wife Iris was hopeful that her party’s team of four candidates could benefit from a collapsed Ulster Unionist vote and all return victorious.

SDLP candidate Joe Boyle was believed to be engaged in a fierce fight with the Alliance Party’s Kieran McCarthy for the last seat.

DUP canvas teams also said they were in contention for gains in Upper Bann and West Tyrone.

Sinn Féin was also pushing hard for all five of its candidates in Gerry Adams’ constituency of West Belfast to win seats.

SDLP sources suggested their Policing Board member, Alex Attwood, could be battling with the DUP’s Dianne Dodds for the final seat.

Sinn Féin’s decision to parachute senior party figure Mitchel McLaughlin from Foyle into the target constituency of South Antrim also looked to have paid off.

However, Alliance leader David Ford insisted that if Mr McLaughlin captured the seat, it would not be at his expense, but rather the SDLP’s Thomas Burns.

In Lagan Valley, another target constituency for Sinn Féin, its candidate, Paul Butler, was believed to be well placed in the battle for the sole nationalist seat against the SDLP's Marietta Farrell.

One of the stories of the election, however, could be in South Belfast, which looked like returning the first Chinese-born member of a devolved Assembly in the UK.

Hong Kong-born Anna Lo, secured the fourth highest vote in the constituency, with 3,829 votes.

Democratic Unionist Jimmy Spratt and SDLP deputy leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell both captured seats in the constituency on the first count.

The Green Party was also believed to be in the race for its first Northern Assembly seat, in North Down where Brian Wilson was believed to have performed credibly.

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