'People wanted to stand up for their rights' says O'Neill after 'fantastic' Mid Ulster result

Michelle O'Neill was elected in first place in the first Mid Ulster count
Michelle O'Neill was elected in first place in the first Mid Ulster count

Thanking the people of Mid Ulster after her landslide win on the first Mid Ulster count, Sinn Fein's NI leader told the Mail 'people wanted to stand up for their rights'.

Michelle O'Neill was elected in first position after taking comfortably over 10,000 first preference votes.

Not far behind was the DUP's Keith Buchanan, who at this stage of the day is looking like the only returning unionist MLA for the constituency, on 9,568 first count votes.

At the second count, both Linda Dillon and Ian Milne were both elected, leaving the SDLP's Patsy McGlone and Ulster Unionist Sandra Overend to fight for the last remaining Assembly seat.

Speaking to the Mail, Michelle O'Neill said: "It's been great. It's a fantastic result. Thanks so much to the people of Mid Ulster who have come out, all 26,207 of you who have come out to return a strong Sinn Fein team."

Speaking before Linda Dillon and Ian Milne's election, she said she had expected them both to return to their posts.

"It sends a very strong message that the electorate were motivated by the message that we have led with over the past number of weeks.

"People want to stand up for their rights, they want to take a stand for equality and respect.

They were angry about the RHI scandal and the alleged corruption in government."

Asked if she was worried after her election with 1226 transfers at the second count, Linda Dillon, who returned with a higher vote than Ian Milne said: "The response on the door was really good and I had that all the way along the campaign to be honest.

"But I am very much, it's not over 'til the votes are counted."

Ian Milne elected, elected in fourth position, simply said: "I would just like to take this opportunity to thank all those who came out and voted for myself, Linda Dillon and Michelle O'Neill."