With the seats reduced from seven to five in Craigavon, the score was always going to be 3-2 in favour of either the ‘orange’ or ‘green’ vote.
And Sinn Fein scored something of an ‘own goal’ by spreading their resources too thinly with three candidates and having just one elected on the 1,512 quota.
The five winners were Kenneth Twyble (UUP), Robert Smith (DUP) Fergal Lennon (SF), Declan McAlinden (SDLP) and Margaret Tinsley (DUP).
Any pundit knew that Twyble and Smith would make it decisively, and that’s what happened in the early stages with Twyble edging in front.
But the DUP had the final fling when Margaret Tinsley (co-opted recently to Craigavon) crept in for the decisive fifth seat.
Both men paid tribute to their running partners, with Twyble saying that Julie Flaherty was “a breath of fresh air to the campaign with her hard work and personality, but I never argue with the electorate and congratulate Margaret on her success.
“But I’m sad that Julie’s hard work didn’t pay off.”
And Smith insisted that the DUP were always confident of earning a second seat in Criagavon. He said, “We knew that the DUP’s combined vote would top the UUP, and Margaret is a worthy winner.”
SF’s sole success was new man Fergal Lennon. Sitting SF member Tommy O’Connor and the third man Vincent McAleenan, were victims of the over-ambition, while SDLP capitalised on the situation with Declan McAlinden succeeding.
A similar slip happened in Lurgan where SF flooded the field with five, and again the DUP capitalised by having Phil Moutray elected.
Said SF publicity officer Brendan Curran, “We weren’t helped by the poor turn-out in both DEAs. But supporters also voted for the new candidates. We’ll learn by that.”
Mr McAlinden’s running mate Joe Nelson said, “We played it just right and had both our Craigavon Borough Council members candidates (Nelson in Lurgan, and McAlinden) safely elected. We’re delighted that the SDLP is stabilising, as there are four others elsewhere in ABC.”
Nobody, though, was more delighted than Tinsley as she left the count.
“I’m almost speechless with delight,” she said. “I never thought I’d do it in such a tricky DEA and after such a short time in politics. The party strategy worked perfectly and I thank everyone who helped me.”
There were 12 in the contest, with McAlinden’s running mate TP Larkin missing out, too, as well as the smaller parties.
Independent Kieran Corr wasn’t really at the races, with the same applying to John Cleland (Alliance), Brian Cummings (PUP).