Politics

NI council elections: Sinn Féin win first seat

Election counting Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Counting got under way at 08:00 BST

The first result of Northern Ireland’s council elections has been confirmed with Sinn Féin’s Darren Totten taking a seat in Mid-Ulster.

Voters went to the polls on Thursday to decide who would represent them on the 11 councils across Northern Ireland.

A total of 1,305,553 people were eligible to vote, according to the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland.

Indications from some of the 1,463 polling stations suggest a reasonable turnout.

Thursday’s good weather appears to have boosted voter numbers, but there is a wide variation across the different District Electoral Areas (DEAs).

In County Fermanagh, the turnout was almost 72% in the Erne East DEA.

However, in east Belfast, just over 42% of eligible voters cast their ballot in the Titanic DEA.

A total of 819 people were competing for 462 seats in council chambers across Northern Ireland.

Polling stations closed at 22:00 BST on Thursday and ballot boxes were moved to the counting centres for the votes to be verified overnight.

The counting of votes in some council areas began at 08:00 BST, with the first results expected in the late afternoon; final results are not expected to be confirmed until Saturday night.

Analysis: Mark Devenport BBC News NI political editor

If you were going to posit a kind of parallel story between what’s been going on in England and what might happen here, you’d be saying will voters, because of the political paralysis at Stormont, turn against the two big parties – the DUP and Sinn Féin?

It’s probably going to be a different story, one of the reasons being that the principal opponents of Sinn Féin and the DUP – the Ulster Unionists and the SDLP – had a pretty good election in 2014.

They were standing on 16.4% of the vote and 13.5% of the vote overall, which was quite good for them and they’ve had less good elections since.

So even if there was certain turn down from Sinn Féin and the DUP, which I don’t think that there will be, they’d still have to fall a long way on recent elections even to match that.

The two big parties will be reasonably satisfied: I’m not convinced we’ll see a parallel of the English situation.

It has been two decades since a council election was held on its own, and not in conjunction with another poll.

The official turnout in 2014’s council election, which was held alongside the European election, was 51%, and the DUP secured the highest number of seats.

Result not in yet

By-elections can take place in some council wards even if that council is not scheduled for elections this year. Check your council website for details.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The first results are expected on Friday afternoon

In 2014, 905 people put their names forward for election.

At that time, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) fielded the most candidates with 172, followed by Sinn Féin with 155, the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) with 117, the SDLP with 85 and the Alliance Party with 84.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption A total of 819 people were competing for 462 seats

BBC News NI will cover the latest election results and analysis on our website, mobile app and on Facebook and Twitter on Friday and throughout the weekend.

There will also be special election programmes on BBC Radio Ulster from 16:00 on Friday and 10:00 on Saturday and on BBC Radio Foyle from 17:00 on Friday.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption The final results are not expected to be confirmed until Saturday night

Television coverage will be on BBC One Northern Ireland at 15:30 on Friday, BBC Two Northern Ireland at 19:30 on Friday and 10:00 on Saturday, with an hour-long Sunday Politics programme on the same channel at 11:00 on Sunday.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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