Watton tops polls in Coleraine

Thumbs up from the PUP's Russell Watton who topped the polls in Coleraine. INCR22-500MJ. Picture: MARK JAMIESON
Thumbs up from the PUP's Russell Watton who topped the polls in Coleraine. INCR22-500MJ. Picture: MARK JAMIESON

The PUP’s Russell Watton topped the poll in Coleraine – and then vowed to fight for more jobs for the region.

Watton had unsuccessfully stood twice before as an independent unionist candidate in Coleraine.

He polled 777 votes on the first count as Coleraine recorded a turnout of 45.73 per cent.

The 60-year-old, who was the first elected in Coleraine DEA, said: ”I’m delighted, not only to have been elected, but to have topped the poll.”

He said he would fight to bring jobs to the area and also support police in combating the drugs threat locally.

SDLP councillor Stephanie Quigley – who replaced her father, veteran trade unionist, Gerry McLaughlin on Coleraine Council earlier this year – weighed in with 721 first preference votes. “I’ve been blown away by all the support I’ve received,” she said.

The new council is the only one in Northern Ireland to bring together four council areas.

In Moyle, Limavady, Ballymoney and Coleraine 68 councillors are being whittled down to just 40 across the region.

Earlier in the day, DUP Ballymoney mayor John Finlay made history when he became the first councillor elected to the new Causeway Coast and Glens Council.

In a turnout of 8,247 (49.67 per cent) in Ballymoney, Mr Finlay polled 1,075 first preference votes.

A beaming Mr Finlay said he was “thrilled and honoured” with the result.

Sinn Fein’s Philip McGuigan also polled well on his to gaining his set in Ballymoney.

The DUP continued their good start to the day when Frank Campbell, was the first elected in the Causeway DEA.

He said: “I look forward to representing the whole area.”

Also successful in Causeway DEA were sitting Coleraine councillors, Mark Fielding, the current Deputy Mayor of Coleraine, and the Alliance Party’s Barney Fitzpatrick.

UUP pair, former Coleraine mayor Norman Hillis and the first successful woman candidate, Sandra Hunter – a former chairperson of Moyle District Council – were elected at the eighth stage of the Causeway DEA.

The TUV will be represented in Council by Sharon McKillop.

However the UUP’s Robert McPherson - who has sat on both Coleraine and Moyle councils in the past - failed to gain a seat, and in North Antrim,independent candidate, Charlie ‘Pappy’ O’Kane registered just 196 votes.

There was also a shock elimination of the DUP’s Bill Kennedy in Causeway DEA which meant that the SDLP’s Maura Hickey and Sharon McKillop (TUV) were successful, despite not reaching the quota.

In Coleraine, the Alliance’s Yvonne Boyle and Phyllis Fielding (DUP) lost their seats.

UUP Coleraine mayor, councillor David Harding and party colleague Willie McCandless retained their seats as did the DUP’s George Duddy and Trevor Clarke.

Counting went late into the night for Ballymoney and after the DUP’s Ian Stevenson was elected a late recount resulted in the election of two UUP councillors, Tom McKeown and Darrl Wilson and the DUPs Alan McClean.

This morning the count will resume with votes collated for the Glens, Limavady, Bann and Benbradagh.

The Times have a reporting team at Coleraine Leisure who will keep you posted on Twitter throughout the day.