IT WAS an impressive one-two for the Ulster Unionist party in Erne North with the party’s two candidates romping home over the quota on the first count.
Topping the poll was Rosemary Barton with 1289 first preference votes while running mate Raymond Farrell received 1108 votes – in an area where the quota was set at 1049 to be elected.
The remaining seats were taken by the SDLP, Sinn Fein and the DUP – with Bert Johnston and John O’Kane’s seats being retained by their respective parties and council newcover John Feely taking the fifth seat.
Rosemary Barton was delighted with her election success and pointed out her first preference votes had gone up by almost a half again rising from 820 in the last election to 1289.
“I am absolutely delighted to have topped the poll for the Ulster Unionist Party in the DEA of Erne North. I thank the electorate of this area for putting their trust in me by giving me this mandate and all those who assisted me in the election campaign.
“While I am very humbled by this result, it will be a great privilege for me to represent this electorate on the new Fermanagh/Omagh District Council.
Raymond Farrell was also delighted with the result, getting elected on the first count.
Getting straight down to business, and talking about the Omagh amalgamation, Mr Farrell said “I have concerns in relation to the impact on rates but having said that it’s law and fact so we have to work together as best we can for the people of the South West and put those issues to the back-burner and work for the people.”
With the two Ulster Unionists elected the Erne North count, held in the major hall downstairs in Omagh Leisure Centre, was rather muted for some time as both stage two (transfer of Rosemary Barton’s surplus) and stage three (exclusion of James Fleming – 249 first preference votes) passed without another candidate reaching the quota or being elected.
Erne North is the electoral area from which SDLP stalwart John O’Kane has just stood down and in his place the SDLP ran two young candidates – Paul Blake and John Coyle.
Blake received 414 first preference votes compared with 628 for John Coyle and with the second lowest votes Blake was excluded from the election at stage four of the election.
The redistribution of his votes saw Coyle gain 338 votes bringing his total votes to 972.
Stage five of the Erne North count involved the exclusion of DUP candidate James Fleming and his exclusion saw first time DUP candidate David Mahon gain 385 votes which got him elected to fill the third of five seats in Erne North.
David Mahon said he was ‘ecstatic’ to have been elected and paid tribute to all who helped him with his campaign, not least Bert Johnston, who David now replaces as the DUP councillor in Erne North.
“We have a lot of ground to cover with the electoral area now running from Belleek to Clabby,” he said.
Alex Elliott of TUV, who polled relatively strongly with 455 votes, was next to be excluded from the process and John Coyle gained 39 votes from Elliott with John Feely gaining two votes as did Peter Jones.
This left three candidates in the running – John Coyle, John Feely and Peter Jones – but only two seats remaining.
Stage six of this count was the transfer of David Mahon’s surplus which saw John Coyle gain 91 bringing him to 1102 – over the quota of 1049 and election.
And although John Feely didn’t meet the quota, with 936 votes he was over 250 ahead of the other last man standing – Peter Jones of Sinn Fein and was deemed elected to the fifth and final seat, concluding the Erne North count shortly after 10pm on Friday night.
John Feely’s election created a unique double in this year’s election with two brothers, both first time candidates, elected to the new council.