BLACK Mountain proved to be the jewel in Sinn Féin’s crown in the weekend’s council election count in Belfast. The party returned all six of their candidates with PBP losing out on a seat to the SDLP’s Paul Doherty.

In a display of vote management which will surely be studied and marvelled over by political scientists in years to come, the party got all six candidates over the line – including three councillors Ciarán Beattie, who topped the poll with 2,336 votes and Michael Donnelly who came in second with 2,158 votes and former Lord Mayor Arder Carson who received 2,073.

The big disappointment came to the PBP’s Matt Collins who topped the poll in the 2019 election and this time received 1,316 first preference votes, putting him behind all six of Sinn Féin’s candidates and the SDLP’s Paul Doherty who polled 1,685. Doherty came ahead of Ronan McLaughlin (Sinn Féin) on 1,641 and Róis-Maire Donnelly (Sinn Féin) who received 1,536.

As with Court DEA it appeared the IRSP took votes from PBP with Dan Murphy receiving 426 first preferences. The Workers' Party had their best showing in the city with Ursula Meighan securing 185 votes and Áontu’s Gerard Herdman picked up 543.

As candidates were excluded Matt Collins still stayed in the race and closed the gap between himself and Róis-Máire Donnelly but was ultimately unsuccessful and although neither candidate met the quota of 1,997 votes, Róis-Máire received a total from surplus and transfers of 1,762 votes, with Matt Collins receiving 1,661.

Speaking for the Sinn Féin team on Monday, Council Group leader Ciarán Beattie said: “Sinn Féin’s newly elected Belfast council group getting to work immediately this morning with a team meeting to plan for the period ahead.

“The largest ever Sinn Féin team in City Hall, with 22 councillors, will work hard every day to deliver on the issues that matter to all the people of Belfast.

“Workers, families and communities need to be supported, and Sinn Féin’s team will work together with others to deliver the best services for everyone.”

Paul Doherty of the SDLP said: “They said it couldn’t be done but tonight we did it. I’m so proud of the result and I’m somebody who works in our community everyday. I love our community. I believe I can make a real difference as a Belfast City councillor. In my term I want to tackle poverty and I want to end homelessness as well and I want to do it with all the councillors here as well and I want to work with you all and I think that working together is the best way forward.”

BLACK MOUNTAIN DEA: Paul Doherty celebrates after being elected a councillor for Black Mountain DEA

BLACK MOUNTAIN DEA: Paul Doherty celebrates after being elected a councillor for Black Mountain DEA

After conceding the contest in Black Mountain PBP’s Matt Collins said: “The count is almost finished in Black Mountain. We are trailing Sinn Féin by 70 votes for the final seat.  

“Despite coming so close, today won't be our day unfortunately. A massive thanks to everyone who supported us and took part in our campaign.

“There will be better days to come.”