BBC News: Election 2010 BBC News

Page last updated at 17:44 GMT, Friday, 7 May 2010 18:44 UK

SF's Gildernew retains her seat

Fermanagh South Tyrone declares

Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew has been re-elected in Fermanagh/South Tyrone.

She was elected on the third recount with a margin of four votes, defeating independent unionist unity candidate Rodney Connor.

In the last seat to be declared in Northern Ireland, Mrs Gildnernew polled 21,304 and Mr Connor polled 21,300.

Unionists have said there is an issue over the tally of votes and the number of votes issued and they will be taking legal advice.

The count was suspended at 0430 BST after two recounts in which Mrs Gildernew and Mr Connor were neck and neck.

SDLP's Fearghal McKinney polled 3,574, Alliance's Vasundhara Kamble got 437 votes and independent John Stevenson polled 188. A total of 46,803 were cast with a turnout of 68.9%.

On Friday, unionists said they were taking legal advice following the election of Mrs Gildernew.

They said there was an issue over the tally of votes and the number of votes issued.


Speaking after being re-elected Mrs Gildernew said: "Since I was first elected as MP for Fermanagh South Tyrone in 2001 I have served every person in this constituency.

"I brought that positive record into this election campaign and people from right across the constituency have once again come out in massive numbers to support me and to support Sinn Fein."

After the second recount, Mrs Gildernew was just two votes ahead of Mr Connor.

She had 21,300 votes to Mr Connor's 21,298.

Earlier, sources claimed 36 more ballot papers were counted in Fermanagh South Tyrone than were recorded as having been issued by the Electoral Office.

In addition, it is understood a handful of what have been described as suspect papers were identified.

The atmosphere at the count was described as very tense and delicate.

When Mrs Gildernew won the seat by a majority of 53 in 2001 the result had to be upheld in the High Court.

Mr Connor, a former chief executive of Fermanagh District Council, was standing as an independent after the DUP and Ulster Conservatives and Unionists (UCU) agreed to run a joint unionist candidate.

Sinn Fein were critical of the SDLP for refusing to discuss a nationalist unity candidate.

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