The Ulster Unionist Party today romped home to easily win a Craigavon Borough Council by-election.
The party’s Jo-Anne Dobson polled 2,494 first preference votes, well ahead of her nearest rival the Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) candidate David Calvert who took 752 votes.
The DUP did not run a candidate in an election where voter turnout was only 23.6%.
Sinn Féin’s Liam Mackle won 401 votes, coming ahead of SDLP candidate Patrick McDade who took 256.
From an early stage of today’s count, the TUV accepted that the Ulster Unionists would win what is a safe unionist seat on the council.
However, the TUV claimed its performance showed its level of support in the unionist community remained solid.
The successful UUP candidate, a married mother of two in her 40s, said her victory sent a message to the wider political arena.
Ms Dobson said unionist voters had left her party after it took the chance to boost the peace process in the past.
The UUP suffered at the polls when it backed power-sharing at a time when the DUP was opposed to it.
But she said the Ulster Unionist Party was now seen as a party of principle.
“Our success today is built upon the fact that increasing numbers of unionists realise that this Party took risks for the right reasons and helped make Northern Ireland a better place,” she said.
“The Ulster Unionist Party has a vision for a better Northern Ireland and, along with our colleagues in the Conservative Party, a vision for a pan-UK unionism which puts Northern Ireland and unionism at the very heart of British politics.”