As the dust settles on another local government election, the lay of the land has changed somewhat in the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon area.
Sinn Féin are now the largest party with 15 seats – an increase of five from the 10 they garnered in 2019. An extra seat was gained in each of the Armagh, Banbridge, Craigavon, Lurgan and Portadown DEAs.
The DUP are now the second largest party in the borough despite gaining an extra two seats themselves. Those came in Armagh and Lurgan.
The Ulster Unionists, which had 10 seats, lost four candidates, most notably Sam Nicholson in Armagh. Jill Macauley and Louise McKinstry were the other sitting councillors who missed out. Jim Speers’ replacement Ewan McNeill also failed in his bid for election.
It was also a bruising result for the SDLP who went from six councillors to one. Thomas O’Hanlon in Armagh is the sole remaining councillor of that party after loses across the board. There were losses for Ciaran Toman, Declan McAlinden, Eamon McNeill and Grainne O’Neill.
The Alliance Party have gained a seat in Craigavon thanks to Robbie Alexander’s strong showing. All three other candidates had strong first preference counts – there was no drama on that front.
Independent Unionist Paul Berry was returned on the first count in Cusher while the TUV picked up a seat in the same ward thanks to a 2,000-plus first preference vote for Keith Ratcliffe.
Lagan River was the least dramatic of the night with all sitting councillors returned.
In terms of the political make-up, unionists still hold a majority in the council with 21 candidates across four parties (including Independent Paul Berry) while nationalists have 16 councillors. Alliance, traditionally in the middle ground, have four councillors.