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DUP’s Diane Dodds first elected as MEP for NI

The DUP's Diane Dodds is first to be elected as an MEP for Northern Ireland. Credit: Presseye

The DUP’s Diane Dodds is first over the line in the European election, carried over by transferred votes ahead of Sinn Féin’s Martina Anderson and Alliance’s Naomi Long.

Just over 45% of the population went to the polls to return three MEPs to the European Parliament – down by 6.7% on the last European election in 2014.

Unlike the rest of the UK, the Single Transferable Vote system is used in Northern Ireland.

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Martina Anderson topped the poll on 126,951 first preference votes, just ahead of Diane Dodds on 124,991 and Naomi Long on 105,928.

The Alliance Party enjoyed a huge surge in support, while the UUP – represented by candidate Danny Kennedy – lost their representation at Brussels for the first time in 40 years.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said she was delighted with her party’s showing, but would have preferred to see “two unionist candidates returned”.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O’Neill hailed those who had endorsed two pro-Remain candidates.

“It is clearly no coincidence that the result endorsing pro-Remain parties so closely reflects the EU referendum result in the North,” she said.

“People want to see progressive politics and progressive parties working together.”

The British Government and the DUP need to start listening. They need to start respecting the democratic wishes of the people here to remain in the EU.

– Michelle O’Neill, Sinn Féin

Paying tribute to successful candidate Martina Anderson, she added: “Martina fought a fantastic, energetic campaign in much the same way that she has been fighting tirelessly against the toxic Brexit agenda and to prevent the people here being dragged out of the EU against their will.

“It is crucial that we are sending her back to Brussels to continue that fight.”

Mrs O’Neill further said: “Brexit has not yet happened and it may not happen at all. Equally, a catastrophic No-Deal crash is still possible.

“In any case, there are major negotiations and upheaval ahead – particularly in terms of safeguarding your rights as EU citizens.”