INDEPENDENT councillor Dr Josephine Deeehan has become the final candidate to be elected to Fermanagh and Omagh District Council following the completion of the count.
The long-serving councillor received 940.63 votes, some 300 ahead of the Ulster Unionist party’s Matthew Bell, following the distribution of the votes of Brenda Mellon of the SDLP.
Mrs Deehan, who is a GP by profession, was unable to attend the count centre due to a prior engagement. She was represented by her son, Cathal, sister, Collette McCaul and brother, Eugene McGrath.
Her election means that the new Fermanagh and Omagh District Council has 21 Sinn Fein councillors, seven from the Ulster Unionist party who are the next largest block of councillors, the DUP have six, there are three from the SDLP, two from Alliance, including Stephen Donnelly in Omagh and Dr Deehan, who is now the one remaining independent councillor.
Sinn Fein are the big winners, while the strong independent presence of the previous mandate from 2019-2023 has been severely curtailed following the loss of Donal OCofaigh, Emmett McAleer and Eamon Keenan.
Three councillors in Omagh town and four each in West and Mid-Tyrone made this an historic election for Sinn Fein, who are now the largest party by a margin of 14 votes over the next biggest, the UUP.
This election has been a disappointment overall for the SDLP. They had five councillors previously and that representation is now reduced to three. They will, though, be relieved at the election of Bernard McGrath in Mid-Tyrone, especially following the loss earlier on Friday of Mary Garrity in West Tyrone.
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