Historic gain for Sinn Féin

​LAST week's Local Government Elections were nothing short of historic for Sinn Féin, with 15 of their 16 candidates elected in areas covering the entire borough, with the exception of Lagan River where Vincent McAleenan failed to win a seat.

​And while it could be argued that the DUP polled just as strongly, with 13 of their 15 candidates elected and their ABC political grouping now including two new councillors, the rise of Sinn Féin was more akin to a tsunami locally, with their representation increasing by a third (from 10 to 15 councillors), making it the largest political party in the borough for the first time ever.

Less spectacular, but certainly noteworthy, is Alliance's strong performance, which saw newcomer Joy Ferguson triumph in Banbridge DEA, and their overall representation increase from three to four councillors.

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The rise of Sinn Féin, and the strong electoral performance recorded by the DUP and Alliance, was at the expense of the UUP who lost four of their 10 councillors, and the SDLP who were all but wiped out in the ABC borough,with only one of their six elected representatives remaining

Well-known local faces who lost their seats included Louise McKinstry (UUP) and Jill Macauley (UUP), while veteran SDLP representative, Seamus Doyle failed in his bid to rejoin the ABC Council.

Banbridge resident and Alliance candidate Emma Hutchinson, from the Dromore Road, was only a few votes away from a fifth Alliance seat - in the Portadown DEA - and this is no doubt a matter of disappointment for the young woman who has tried her luck before in previous elections.

As the only independent candidate in the entire borough, Councillor Paul Berry, from Tandragee, was true to form, and he polled incredibly strongly in the Cusher DEA.

Sinn Féin now have 15 seats in the borough, followed by the DUP (13 seats), the UUP (6), Alliance (4), the SDLP (1), the TUV (1) and independent councillor Paul Berry.