Lagan Valley: Huge endorsement for Donaldson with 19,000 majority
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has been returned to Westminster with his highest ever vote (26,762) and highest majority since taking the Lagan Valley seat in 2005.
“I think this is a very resounding response from unionism in Lagan Valley. Unionists have united behind the person they believe is the best candidate,” he said.
Addressing his jubilant supporters from the podium, Mr Donaldson said it was also “a good day for Northern Ireland.”
He said: “To have a strong, united team representing Northern Ireland in our national Parliament at such a critical time. That is the platform we put ourselves forward on.
“Whatever the result nationally, the DUP will be there making the case on behalf of everyone in Northern Ireland.”
Commenting on the prospect of a hung Parliament ahead of the Lagan Valley result being announced, he said a narrow Conservative majority could lead to the DUP being “serious players” on the national stage.
“If the Conservatives are just short of an overall majority it puts us in a very very strong negotiating position, and certainly one that we will take up with relish,” he said.
Runner up Robbie Butler – the Ulster Unionist candidate – came a distant second to his unionist rival, polling 7,533 votes which was an increase of almost 1,500 on 2015.
Mr Butler described the DUP victory as “resounding,” but said he would remain upbeat as his previous employment experiences put politics in perspective.
“I worked in the fire service and the prison service so I know what a bad day is,” he said.
“I will keep up my message of ‘hope not fear’.”
Alliance candidate Aaron McIntyre’s vote of 4,996 was down from the 5,544 polled by party stalwart Trevor Lunn in 2015.
Pat Catney of the SDLP was a surprise package in the March Assembly – taking the fifth and final seat at the expense of the DUP – and again performed well, increasing his 2015 total from 2,500 to 3,384 this time around.
Sinn Fein’s Jacqui Russell also increased her party’s vote to 1,567 (from 1,144 in 2015).
• Jeffrey Donaldson (DUP) - 26,762
• Robbie Butler (UUP) - 7,533
• Aaron McIntyre (All) - 4,996
• Pat Catney (SDLP) - 3,384
• Jacqui Russell (SF) - 1,567
• Ian Nickels (Con) - 462
• Jonny Orr (Ind) - 222