Page last updated at 12:17 GMT, Monday, 8 June 2009 13:17 UK

Sinn Fein tops poll in Euro count


Diane Dodds has spoken of her party's disappointment in their result, blaming a split in the unionist vote

Sinn Fein's Bairbre de Brun has topped the poll in the European Parliamentary election in Northern Ireland.

She has broken a record the DUP has held since 1979. Ms de Brun got 126,184 votes and was the only candidate to reach the quota on the first count.

Jim Nicholson of the Ulster Conservatives and Unionists was the second MEP returned, elected at the third stage.

Diane Dodds of the DUP took the final seat, also at the third stage.

She had the second highest number of first preference votes, 88,346, just ahead of the Ulster Conservatives and Unionists with 82,893.

Jim Allister, TUV, got 66,197 first preferences, but was later eliminated.

Agnew, Green Party - 15,764
Allister, Traditional Unionist Voice - 66,197
De Brun, Sinn Fein - 126,184
Dodds, DUP - 88,346
Maginness, SDLP - 78,489
Nicholson, Ulster Conservative and Unionist - 82,893
Parsley, Alliance - 26,699
Quota: 121,144

Agnew and Parsley eliminated

The DUP had 32% of the entire first preference vote in 2004, this time it has fallen to 18.2%.

The DUP votes have gone to Mr Allister, who split from the DUP over its decision to enter government with Sinn Fein.

He was eliminated at the second stage with a total of 70,481 votes but indicated he would stand in North Antrim in the next general election - taking on the DUP in their heartland.

Mr Allister said he had attained 30% of the unionist vote, adding: "That is a remarkable achievement and shows the depth of feeling that there is among many unionists who refuse to be rolled over in the era of Sinn Fein rule."

At the second stage, the redistribution of the Alliance and the Green Party votes went mainly to the Ulster Conservatives and Unionists and the SDLP.

Mr Allister also got more than 4,000 of those transfers.

Veteran MEP Jim Nicholson, who stood on an Ulster Conservatives and Unionists ticket, said he was very pleased with his performance.

"We have done it, the Ulster Conservative and Unionist Party is back and we're back in style.

"Things are changing, they're changing our way. We're on our way back and that's good. And we feel good today."

In the past Mr Nicholson had always been elected behind the DUP.

Bairbre de Brun topped the poll in Northern Ireland
Bairbre de Brun topped the poll in Northern Ireland

Sinn Fein's vote is down 0.3% on the last European poll in 2004; the Conservatives and Unionists are up 0.5%; the SDLP has increased its vote by 0.3% and the Green Party is up 2.4%.

The Alliance Party said it was their best result in any election since 1998.

BBC Northern Ireland political editor Mark Devenport said there were a number of reasons for the DUP's poor performance.

"The Westminster expenses story and doubts about Diane Dodds' TV performances clearly played into the DUP reversal.

"As the dominant party in the executive they were also always going to be in line to be hit by a protest vote.

"One of the most important factors is that this was the first election since the DUP did its deal with Sinn Fein. They were always going to lose a section of their "never, never, never" support base."

Turnout, confirmed at just below 43%, has fallen dramatically from the last election. It means that 488,891 people in Northern Ireland voted.

There were 4,319 rejected papers and 484,572 valid papers.

Three hundred people counted the papers at the King's Hall in south Belfast.

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