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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Rebecca Black

Sinn Fein holds on to four seats in West Belfast

PA Wire

Sinn Fein has retained its dominant position, holding four of the five Stormont Assembly seats in West Belfast.

Gerry Carroll of People Before Profit picked up the fifth and final seat in the constituency to return the same party strengths in the constituency as 2017.

It was one of the most contested constituencies in Northern Ireland, with 17 candidates.

Danny Baker (Sinn Fein) was elected on the first count at Titanic Exhibition Centre on Friday before a long wait for the other four MLAs who were returned late Saturday afternoon.

Orlaithi Flynn (Sinn Fein) was elected on the 10th stage of the count.

Her party colleagues Aisling Reilly and Pat Sheehan were elected on the 11th stage.

Mr Baker said the party was returning its “strongest ever mandate” and thanked the voters of West Belfast.

He paid tribute to outgoing MLAs who stood down, including the former Stormont Speaker Alex Maskey as well as veteran representative Fra McCann.

He said he and his colleagues will be ready to form an Executive on Monday.

“Lets get the Executive formed immediately, no excuses, no nonsense, no time for wasting. It’s now time for an Executive that delivers real change for everyone,” he said in his acceptance speech.

The SDLP had hoped to win back a seat in the constituency which it lost in 2017, however Paul Doherty was eliminated on the tenth stage.

The DUP had also hoped to make a gain in West Belfast but their candidate Frank McCoubrey was unable to secure enough transfers in the nationalist majority constituency and was overtaken by Mr Carroll.

People Before Profit candidates Fiona Ferguson (centre, second left) and Gerry Carroll (Liam McBurney/PA) (PA Wire)

Delivering his acceptance speech, Mr Carroll paid tribute to his party colleagues in other constituencies who fought a “tough election”.

“It’s not my first election but this election wasn’t a normal election, we’re faced with multiple crises,” he said, and expressed solidarity with council, Housing Executive and education workers who are currently taking strike action over pay.

“It is disgraceful at a time of cost of living crisis that workers who kept society going through Covid are having to fight to get a decent pay offer and any incoming Executive must deal with pay of workers as an absolute priority from day one.”

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