NI Assembly election results: Upsets and first woman elected in DUP heartland

Patricia O'Lynn of Alliance. Presseye.
Patricia O'Lynn of Alliance. Credit: Presseye.

Patricia O'Lynn became the first female MLA for North Antrim in a double first, also becoming the first Alliance Party member to win a seat in the constituency.

The UUP's Robin Swann topped the poll with 9,530 votes ahead of Sinn Fein's Philip McGuigan's 9,348, which saw them both elected at the first stage.

TUV leader Jim Allister and the DUP's Paul Frew completed the line-up.

It saw a significant shift in power in the traditional DUP heartland, with Mervyn Storey losing the seat he had held since 2003.

Ms O'Lynn was the fifth and final person elected after a surge of transfers which saw her overtake the DUP stalwart in the final run-in.

Ms O'Lynn said: "A new day is on the horizon in North Antrim. The age of entitlement is over."

Jim Allister, elected at the fifth stage, said of Mr Storey losing his seat: "It is a matter of great sadness to me that his seat has been taken by the crypto-nationalist Alliance Party."

Robin Swann's vote share was undoubtedly enhanced in part due to his high-profile role as Health Minister during the Covid pandemic.

"I think part of this vote is a reflection of the work in the health service during a very difficult two years," he said.

Mr Swann said he would not be afraid to continue his role if he was given the chance.

"A lot has happened in the past two years and the green shoots of recovery are beginning to take place. I would like to carry on some of that work to see those changes through," he said.