DUP retains grip in Mid and East Antrim, but TUV and UUP on the up

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The new Mid and East Antrim Council will be Unionist controlled ,with three-quarters of its 40 seats occupied by DUP, UUP and TUV councillors.

The DUP remained the biggest party (16 seats), the UUP (nine seats) proved a strengthening force, and shockwaves were sent out when the TUV confirmed they were on the up with five seats.

Sinn Fein and Alliance secured three seats apiece, two independents were elected while UKIP took one seat and the SDLP also took one.

The turnout was 47.95 per cent of an eligible population of 96,494.

Speaking after their fifth councillor was elected, TUV leader Jim Allister said: “We are increasing our foothold in this area, a product I believe of strong solid work on behalf of the people in the constituency, gratifying to me as it is the heart of my constituency base.

“That recipe, along with the view of the need for unionists to stand up for themselves, means that we will continue to grow, and that roll-over unionism is in decline and the resurgence of strong unionism is on the increase.”

Despite TUV gains, DUP MP for East Antrim, Sammy Wilson emphasised that his party remains the biggest in the new council.

Mr Wilson admitted he was disappointed that the DUP had failed to make gains and had even lost some sitting councillors.

He believed there was a number of reasons why they suffered disappointment.

“Being the biggest party in Northern Ireland, where things are not seen to be working as well as they should be, the onus is always going to fall on us and we have suffered from some of that,” Mr Wilson said.

“I think the TUV have done better than previous elections because with the European elections being held on the same day they have had Jim Allister, who is very high profile and a big public presence, holding the hands of many candidates, and that has helped their vote. So there has been a combination of things.”

Meanwhile, UUP councillor for Larne Lough, Mark McKinty, welcomed the fact that his party had increased its vote share.

He added: “It is great news across the board for the party. The electorate are placing their trust in our principles of trust and honesty and hard work.”