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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 February 2008, 17:19 GMT
UUP retains seat in by-election
Carol Black takes the place of former Ulster Unionist Tyrone Howe
Carol Black takes the place of former Ulster Unionist Tyrone Howe
The UUP's Carol Black has won the Banbridge Council by-election.

The DUP topped the poll with 1069 votes after the first count, but transfer votes helped the UUP retain the seat.

Much of the focus was on Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV), whose Keith Harbinson finished in third place with 739 first preference votes.

It was the first election contested by the party, led by former DUP MEP Jim Allister who said it was a "phenomenal achievement from a standing start".

Mr Allister said "a loss of 44% of the DUP vote is unparalleled and betokens the gross loss of confidence by grassroots unionists in Ian Paisley's leadership".

If our chief opponent there (Jim Allister) thinks he's going to hold on to his European seat, he's got another thing coming
Ian Paisley
DUP leader
He said he was not surprised TUV transfers were split almost equally between the UUP and DUP as "both are enthusiastically implementing the pernicious Belfast Agreement".

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said the result meant "the DUP can no longer claim to be the majority voice of unionism".

He said the UUP was "virtually ignored" by the media during the election but had proved the pundits wrong.

'Back in business'

"The Ulster Unionist Party has weathered the political storm - we are still here and we are back in business," he said.

DUP leader Ian Paisley played down the result at a meeting of the British-Irish Council in Dublin.

"We did top the poll, it was an Official Unionist seat which they held on to by a little under 70 votes, so we did exceedingly well," he said.

"If our chief opponent there (Jim Allister) thinks he's going to hold on to his European seat, he's got another thing coming."

The seat was contested by seven candidates after the resignation of Ulster Unionist Tyrone Howe, a former Ulster and Ireland rugby player.

Just under 4,000 votes were cast, equating to a turnout of about 40%.

The other candidates were the Green Party's Helen Corry, John Drake of the SDLP, Sinn Fein's Paul Gribben and David Griffin of Alliance.

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Political reaction to the win





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