THE political landscape of Enniskillen has remained comparatively unchanged following the outcome of Saturday’s local government election results.
It was the DUP who lost out in the Enniskillen District Electoral Area (DEA) when it lost one of its seats after Shirely Donaldson failed to reach the mark. The presence of the hardline Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) was certainly a thorn in the two main unionist parties sides with Donald Crawford polling 636 first preference votes.
But it was Sinn Fein’s Tommy Maguire who topped the polls with 792 first preference votes, but failed to reach the quota mark of 963 and wasn’t elected until the third count.
With 13 candidates from seven parties and two independents vying for six seats, the four main political parties were always going to have a tough battle on their hands to retain their positions in the new super council.
Voters in Enniskillen were the least enthusiastic about going to the polls with a drop in the Westminster election turnout of four years ago to just over 54.23 percent, a figure considerably lower than those recorded in rural areas.
The final line-up to represent Enniskillen in the Fermanagh and Omagh council is Tommy Maguire (SF), Debbie Coyle (SF), Keith Elliott (DUP), Robert Irvine (UUP), Howard Thornton (UUP) and Patricia Rogers (SDLP).
It was a nervous wait for Sinn Fein candidate Tommy Maguire who got through at the seventh stage despite topping the poll with 792 first preference votes.
Speaking after his success, Mr Maguire said: “I am delighted and I was even more delighted to have topped the poll as an Enniskillen native. I look forward to the new council and to represent the people of Enniskillen to the best of my ability, it’s a really good feeling to know your peers have supported you in your endeavours and my congratulations goes to our other candidates who have got through.
“Big thanks to my election agent, my wife and family, who have helped and supported me through the campaign.
” I’m looking forward to getting back into the hard work again.
“I have a personal interest in the Gaelic language and I have worked to promote the Irish language and culture throughout Fermanagh District Council and I hope to maintain that same emphasis to make sure the representation of our Gaelic tradition and culture is given what it deserves.”
The DUP’s one representative was newcomer Keith Elliott. He was co-opted into the council after long-standing councillor Alison Brimstone stepped down in March this year.
“It feels fantastic to be elected and to be able to come back again and secure the seat is a great achievement and I’m over the moon.
“I canvassed hard and was more than happy with the response I was getting back. I will be part of a team and will work closely with my colleagues in the DUP to get results for the people of Fermanagh.
“Big issues has to be the amalgamation of Portora and the Collegiate and the push for a new building for the Devenish College which are all hot topics at the minute.
“We are a minority party but we will have to fight our corner and I will do my best for my people in Fermanagh, it might not be easy at times but that’s why I’m standing here today.”
A nervous Debbie Coyle – who is no stranger to the Enniskillen political-scene – was elected at the last stage but without making the quota.
She polled 670 first preference votes.
The Sinn Fein councillor’s relief was palpable as Deputy Returning Officer Joan McCaffrey announced her name as an elected councillor.
Speaking as the count was drawn to a close, she said: “I am very happy we have secured our seats and I’m very happy to go into Omagh with Enniskillen well represented.
“The main priorities for me is community planning and building up communities and getting local services into communities so people can access them, especially around youth community services.
“When it comes to the voting system anything goes, people vote differently .We lost one in Erne East but we will fight and get it back. Otherwise I am happy enough.”
Returning councillor Robert Irvine of the UUP concluded his election speech by offering his thanks to Omagh count centre staff:
“There are opportunities and issues put forward and hopefully we can forward on them. I’d like to thank all the staff at the count centre – there was a lot of professionalism and some laughs involved.
“Good luck to all the councillors who were elected, now the real work starts.”