Jemma Dolan (second from left) with her family on voting day last Thursday.

Historic election sees little change in Fermanagh

Discussions on forming an Executive are unlikely to be fruitful.

It remains the status quo for the Fermanagh-South Tyrone constituency as voters returned the same parties to Stormont in last week’s assembly election.

Three Sinn Féin, one DUP and one UUP MLAs were elected in what’s being seen as a momentous election for Northern Ireland.

Jemma Dolan was returned as a Sinn Féin MLA on the first count on Friday, polling 9,067 first preference votes.

It took until the sixth count to see the UUP’s Tom Elliott elected. His party colleague and outgoing MLA Rosemary Barton lost her seat.

Colm Gildernew and Áine Murphy were both elected for Sinn Féin, giving the party three seats in total. The latter was co-opted last year to replace former MLA Seán Lynch who resigned.

The DUP’s Deborah Erskine took the final seat without reaching the quota. She was co-opted to the Assembly last year following the resignation of former First Minister Arlene Foster.

Sinn Féin are now the largest party in Northern Ireland, with 27 seats, followed by the DUP on 25. That’s a drop of three for the party, with Sinn Féin holding steady on its 2017 result. It marks the first time in Northern Ireland’s 101-year history that a nationalist party has won the most seats in a Parliamentary or Assembly election there.

Talks are underway in a bid to form an Executive but disquiet among the DUP over the Northern Ireland protocol could make that difficult.

While Sinn Féin’s feat has dominated headlines over recent days, the Alliance Party’s doubling of its seats cannot go unnoticed. Seventten of its candidates were elected, up from eight in the previous assembly.

The Alliance surge is expected to lead to calls for changes to Executive formation following future elections as the terms of the Good Friday Agreement mean only the largest party on either Unionist or Nationalist sides can hold some positions. The Green Party was wiped out after its two MLAs lost their seats. Despite seeing the largest vote increase across the north, the hardline TUV only returned its leader Jim Allister as the party's lack of transfer appeal stalled its prospects.

Fermanagh-South Tyrone
CandidateFirst Preference Votes
Derek Blackhouse (IND) 128
Rosemary Barton (UUP)2,912
Matthew Beaumont (APNI)2,583
Paul Bell (DUP)4,255
Emma DeSouza (IND)249
Jemma Dolan (SF)9,067
Tom Elliott (UUP)5,442
Alex Elliott (TUV)3,091
Deborah Erskine (DUP)5,272
Adam Gannon (SDLP)3,836
Colm Gildernew (SF)7,562
Emmett Kilpatrick (PBP)103
Denise Mullen (AON)927
Áine Murphy (SF)7,379
Kellie Turtle (GP)335
Dónal Ó’Cofaigh (CCLA)602