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NI council elections: Counting under way on day two

A man carrying ballot boxes Image copyright PA
Image caption The final results are expected later on Saturday

The second day of counting is under way in Northern Ireland’s council elections with three quarters of the 462 seats filled across 11 councils.

The first day saw some surprising gains for Alliance and the Greens.

The DUP had its first openly gay politician elected, while People Before Profit also made gains.

Sinn Féin had a mixed set of results on the first day of counting, while the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) lost a number of seats.

Results so far…

The sister party of the Liberal Democrats in Great Britain, Alliance is Northern Ireland’s main centrist cross-community party, seeking to attract support from both Protestants and Catholics.

In Derry and Strabane District Council, Independent councillor Gary Donnelly topped the poll in the Moor electoral area – where journalist Lyra McKee was killed last month by dissident republicans.

He had refused to condemn violent dissident republicanism but in the wake of her murder he called on the New IRA to desist from further attacks.

Meanwhile, an independent candidate – who only stood for election after a Facebook post suggestion posted on 1 April garnered online support – has been elected to Antrim and Newtownabbey District council.

Michael Stewart, who runs the Love Newtownabbey Facebook page, said: “I wasn’t aware there would be this massive surge to independents, the Greens and Alliance. I didn’t know I was part of anything.”

He added: “I am one of those people who voted for me, who’ve no interest in politics – they care about holes in their roads, no paper in their schools and that they can’t get an appointment with their health centre.”

In Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon District Council, Brian Pope of Alliance was elected following a marathon count that went on until 06:00 on Saturday morning.

Elsewhere, the election of the DUP’s first openly gay politician was welcomed by one of the party’s senior politicians.

Alison Bennington was elected to Antrim and Newtownabbey.

Belfast East MP Gavin Robinson said it was a “good news story”, despite assembly member Jim Wells claiming members were “shocked by the decision” to let her run.

Analysis: Jayne McCormack, BBC News NI political reporter

Alliance had a stunning performance on Friday – they’ve managed to get seats across the board, breaking the trope that they’ve only ever had big support in the greater Belfast area.

The smaller parties – the Greens and People Before Profit – saw success too, and will be pleased at their growth in representation.

It looks like the DUP and Sinn Fein will make gains – there are some stronghold areas in which they’ll hope to consolidate their vote as well.

After a mixed day for Sinn Fein, they’ll be aiming for wins, with candidates including Barry McElduff set to make a comeback in Omagh.

As for the Ulster Unionists, it could be that their struggle continues. There are big question marks over some of their long-standing Belfast seats, so keep an eye on that.

As ever, counting in some areas went on long into Saturday morning – with an 06:00 finish in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon. It could be another long day.

The SDLP had positive results in Derry and Strabane, with the party’s Mary Durkan elected on her first foray into politics.

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Media captionMark Simpson takes a look at how things might pan out in our VR studio

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said his party had done “very, very well” in the area and was pleased with the performance overall.

The remaining seats across Northern Ireland will be filled on Saturday.

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 started to come in after 11:00 on Friday

BBC News NI is covering the latest election results and analysis on our website, mobile app and on Facebook and Twitter pages.

A dedicated live page will keep you up to date as the results are announced.

There is also a special election programme on BBC Radio Ulster and BBC One Northern Ireland from 10:00 on Saturday, with an hour-long Sunday Politics programme on the same channel at 11:00 on Sunday.

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


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