NI's three MEPs return to Europe

NI's three MEPs return to Europe

All three of Northern Ireland's outgoing European MPs have been re-elected for another term after a lengthy count in Belfast.

Voters went to the polls on Thursday, but the first European result was not declared until well into Monday evening when Sinn Féin's Martina Anderson topped the poll and reached the quota.She received 159,813 first preference votes to be elected to Brussels.Counting had been expected to be completed by teatime on Monday, but already behind schedule, it was suspended in the early hours of Tuesday morning after four candidates had been excluded.The count resumed at 9am and the DUP's Diane Dodds was finally elected to the second seat on Tuesday afternoon after excluded TUV leader Jim Allister's votes were transferred.Then finallly UUP's Jim Nicholson took the final seat on Tuesday evening after making the quota on the eighth stage.They think it's all over. It is now! Anderson (SF), Dodds (DUP) & Nicholson (UUP) elected MEPs— Marc Mallett (@MarcMallett_UTV) May 27, 2014Giving her acceptance speech a day after she was elected, Ms Anderson noted that Sinn Féin was on its way to taking four seats across the island of Ireland and hailed the party's success."The voice of the voters have been heard throughout Ireland, they have endorsed the Sinn Féin message that there is a fair way," she said."The Sinn Féin result is part of a national story reflecting the growth of support for Sinn Féin's strategy for change. There will be a national Sinn Féin team of MEPs going to Europe who will put Ireland first - north, south, east and west."Speaking to UTV, Mrs Dodds said: "I'm delighted that I got 131,000 first preference votes, I thank those people in Northern Ireland who went out and they trusted me and gave me those votes.The DUP MEP said: "Those people when they were voting for other candidates chose to give them preferences, so I'm thanking those as well, [because] they chose to give me their preferences on number two and number three that's what got me over the line."Congratulating his colleague, DUP leader Peter Robinson said the election results had been good for the party overall "given the surroundings"."You just can't have in some cases, eight different parties, as well as unionist independents in the field in local government without meaning that everybody's share of the overall cake is reduced," he commented.Mr Robinson described the fragmentation of unionism as a "dangerous phenomenon"."It's one that will lose us seats in a Westminster election and critically could do so in an assembly election as well," he continued."The unionist community is going to have to face those issues, simply because we have a difference on an issue doesn't mean you start up a new party. When someone does, we can see what the consequences have been."Meanwhile, Mr Nicholson, who was the last to be re-elected, highlighted his 25 years of experience in representing the region in Europe."I look forward to taking up the challenge because the next five years are going to be very challenging in Europe to get change and hopefully get a referendum," he said.He also commented on the UUP's success on the back of his win and gains in the local government election."The party's health is the best it's been for many a long day," he added.Sinn Féin topped the European poll with 25.5% of first preference votes, followed by the DUP at 20.9% and the UUP at 13.3%.


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