General election 2017: Jubilant Paisley retains North Antrim seat in style

Ian Paisley pictured at the election count at Seven Towers Leisure Centre Ballymena for North Antrim.
Ian Paisley pictured at the election count at Seven Towers Leisure Centre Ballymena for North Antrim.

The DUP has tightened its iron grip on North Antrim, with incumbent Ian Paisley winning the seat by a landslide.

Mr Paisley romped home with a staggering 28,521 votes (58.84%), and declared that the result was an “awakening” for unionism.

Accompanied by his family, Mr Paisley was in buoyant and relaxed mood when he arrived at the Seven Towers Leisure Centre in Ballymena around 1am.

The party had predicted that Mr Paisley would increase his share of the vote, but this result will have surpassed even the most optimistic of projections.

The result smashes Mr Paisley’s previous poll back in 2015, when he took 18,107 votes (43.2%).

A traditional DUP heartland, North Antrim has been inescapably linked with the party’s former leader Dr Ian Paisley since he first won the seat in 1970. Having maintained an firm hold on the constituency for four decades until his retirement in 2010, many wondered if the fortunes of DUP would change once Mr Paisley stepped down in 2010, to be replaced by his son.

However, this morning’s result shows the dynastic dominance of the party remains as strong as ever.

Coming a distant second was Sinn Fein’s Cara McShane, who also increased her party’s share of the vote. She polled 7,878, up from predecessor Daithi McKay’s result of 5,143 back in 2015.

UUP newcomer Jackson Minford polled 3,482 (down from Robin Swann’s 2015 result of 5,054), while TUV candidate Timothy Gatson took home 3,282 votes (a significant drop from his 2015 result of 6,561).

Alliance’s Patricia O’Lynn polled 2,723, while SDLP candidate Declan O’Loan’s tally was 2,574.

The turnout here was up by almost 10% on 2015, with 48,580 votes cast (64.12%).