When UKIP first announced it would contest our assembly elections I was interested but not too hopeful. After an election which had very little excitement the plight of specific parties or candidates have been the major stories.
UKIP gained 4,152 votes across 6 constituencies. This may not seem many but it needs to be looked at in context. They gained more votes than the Workers Party, BNP and PUP combined.
Henry Reilly, UKIP’s South Down candidate, won 2,332 First Preference Votes (FPV) and 5.6% – double that of the much tipped Green candidate. Kilkeel based councillor Reilly became the “King Maker” in South Down.
The UKIP candidate polled more FPV than now elected MLAs Stephen Agnew (2,207) Leslie Cree (1,585) Alastair Ross (1,608) and Michael Copeland(2,194.)
With council results now declared we also see that Henry Reilly topped the poll in Newry & Mourne with 1,910 FPV (over 150 more than then nearest candidate.)
The ability of UKIP to poll so well as a new-comer to Ulster politics bodes well for other national parties to contest the province. Their brand of combative right-of-centre politics coupled with their USP of Euro-realism has proved popular and this may be the beginning, not the end, of their involvement here.