Page last updated at 14:23 GMT, Friday, 7 May 2010 15:23 UK

South Antrim: DUP's William McCrea beats Sir Reg Empey

William McCrea
William McCrea has been re-elected

William McCrea, DUP, has retained his South Antrim seat with 11,536 votes.

UUP leader Sir Reg Empey was second with 10,353 votes and Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin third with 4,729.

The SDLP's Michelle Byrne polled 2,955 votes, Alan Lawther of the Alliance Party, 2,607, and Mel Lucas, TUV, 1,829.

Sir Reg said on Friday he would consult with party officers and assembly colleagues on the "consequences of the outcome".

No further comment from the Ulster Unionist Party is expected until Monday afternoon.

After the votes were counted on Friday morning, Mr McCrea said: "It may annoy some people but the people have made their choice."

The result marked a disastrous night for the Ulster Unionist Party which now has no MPs.

The party's alliance with the Conservatives failed to halt its long-term decline.

In the 2001 general election it was the largest party in Northern Ireland with 26.8% of the vote and six MPs.

That went down to 17.7% and one MP in 2005. It came fourth in Thursday's poll, with 16.3% of the vote.

The party's only MP from 2005 - Lady Sylvia Hermon - left the party earlier this year over the Conservative alliance. She retained her seat in North Down standing as a independent.

After his defeat in South Antrim, Sir Reg Empey defended the Tory link-up.

The Northern Ireland employment minister said: "I do think we need new ideas going forward and we put them.

"So far they have not attracted the level of support we wanted but nevertheless it does not mean it was the wrong thing to do."

Mr McCrea was MP for Mid-Ulster from 1983 until 1997 when he lost the seat to Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness.

He took South Antrim at a by-election in 2000 caused by the death of Ulster Unionist Party MP, Clifford Forsythe, but failed to retain this seat at the 2001 election.

He regained it in 2005.



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