The full story: NI election night

Election 2010LIVE TEXT COMMENTARY (all times BST) 0106 FOYLE ALERT: It’s expected that the count in Derry will resume. The candidates have been brought into the building to inspect the seals on the padlocked doors and an announcement is expected soon.

0104 A reminder that the nearest Alliance ever came to winning a seat in Northern Ireland before was in 1979, the year Peter Robinson was first elected narrowly defeating Oliver Napier (and Bill Craig).

0103 DUP HOLD: David Simpson wins in Upper Bann, retaining his parliamentary seat.

BBC NI political correspondent Gareth Gordon 0100 BBC Northern Ireland political correspondent Gareth Gordon says Peter Robinson’s entire future in politics is now in question. In all the excitement, we forgot to mention this is the Alliance Party’s first ever Westminster seat.

DUP leader Peter Robinson 0058 Mr Robinson congratulates Mrs Long for her victory. He says: "Of course there will be many people who look at the election and draw their own conclusions about my defeat. I had indicated to many people I would prefer not to stand in this election, so be careful what you wish for." He adds: "No matter what role I play my part I will do my best to get the best deal for the people in Northern Ireland."

0052 Naomi Long polled 12,839 votes while Peter Robinson got 11,306. At the last general election, Mr Robinson polled 15,152 votes (it would have been 18,087 votes according to those adjusted figures). UCU candidate Trevor Ringland came third with 7,305 votes.

0049 ALLIANCE GAIN: Huge shock as Alliance deputy leader Naomi Long unseats DUP leader Peter Robinson. Wow.

0047 SF’s Bairbre de Brun thinks that big fall in West Tyrone turnout (74% down to 62%) may be because the seat is now so safe for SF that people haven’t bothered to come out. By the way, West Tyrone was the fourth constituency to declare in the whole of the UK. Meanwhile, we’re holding our breath waiting for East Belfast here…

0044 BBC Radio Ulster reporter Simon Hunter says that East Belfast could be the story of the election. He says he is hearing from good sources that Naomi Long has beaten Peter Robinson.

DUP leader Peter Robinson 0043 Ooh, this could be a big one in East Belfast. The BBC’s Andy Martin says it is too close to call between DUP leader Peter Robinson and the Alliance’s Naomi Long. Mrs Long is looking very nervous. Her tallymen think she could be 1,000 ahead at the moment. Result coming in five to 10 minutes…

0039 DUP HOLD: Ian Paisley Jr replaces his father as North Antrim. Victorious, he takes to the podium singing a hymn. Not sure if Simon Cowell will be on the phone.

Pat Doherty 0037 SINN FEIN HOLD: Pat Doherty wins with 18,050 votes. The overall turnout was 37,632, or 61.54% of the overall electorate. "That’s another magnificent victory for Sinn Fein in West Tyrone," he says. He’s got a majority of 10,685.

0034 Looks like West Tyrone’s about to be declared within minutes, with Sinn Fein’s Pat Doherty winning on about 18,000 votes.

0032 Gareth Gordon adds it was interesting to hear that the candidate’s name on the North Antrim ballot paper was Ian Paisley, with "junior" omitted.

BBC NI political correspondent Gareth Gordon 0028 BBC Northern Ireland political correspondent Gareth Gordon says that the DUP will be making "long, loud noises into the night" if Ian Paisley Junior holds the North Antrim seat comfortably. He adds though that it might be too soon to write off the TUV, particularly with an Assembly election looming next year.

0027 TUV leader Jim Allister has conceded that the DUP’s Ian Paisley Jr has won in North Antrim.

BBC Northern Ireland editor Mark Devenport 0024 Mark Devenport says on his blogthat Lucid Talk pollster Bill White has shared his estimates of South Belfast with him. He reckons the SDLP’s Alasdair McDonnell will get 34.7%, the DUP 26.2%, UCUNF 20.8% Alliance 15.3% and the Greens 3%. Incidentally, back in 2005 Alliance polled 6.3% of the vote – where has that big jump come from? Sinn Fein supporters?

0016 Ian Paisley Sr says the people have spoken in North Antrim and the TUV have been "written off". Indeed, a developing story from several constituencies seems to be that the TUV have not done significant damage to the DUP.

0012 FOYLE ALERT: Enda McClafferty on Radio Ulster says that following a short news conference with a senior police officer, it seems likely that the Foyle and East Londonderry counts may be suspended for the night because of the bomb alert at Templemore Leisure Centre. The candidates are being shown that the building is secure, so that the votes cannot be tampered with.

0009 Remember that West Tyrone time of 0230 that we mentioned earlier? Well we’re now hearing it could be as early as 0030. Pat Doherty was 1/100 with one local bookmaker to retain this seat for Sinn Fein. That’s putting on £100 to win a quid! Still, you never know.

Lady Sylvia Hermon 0007 BBC Radio Ulster reporter Andy Martin says that the TUV are not even monitoring the North Down count – they are more interested in watching the East Belfast count which is being held in the same building in Newtownards. He says the talk there is "they’d be better to weigh Lady Sylvia’s vote than count it".

0003 Ian Paisley Snr has just arrived at the North Antrim count, says BBC reporter Julia Paul.

0000 Some more Twitter chat that Naomi Long is polling well in East Belfast, though there’s no hard figures as yet. DUP leader Peter Robinson has had what the Queen might describe as an"annus horribilis"but he is still favourite to retain hisEast Belfastseat. Mr Robinson has angrily rejected what he terms BBC "smears" about his land deals and his handling of his wife’s conduct. It seemed for a while last year that Mr Robinson might give up his Westminster seat to concentrate on Stormont. But now he says he will be the exception holding on to both his MP and MLA roles,while his DUP colleagues will give up so called "double-jobbing".The main contenders vying to overturn his 5,877 majority are former Ireland rugby international Trevor Ringland for the Conservatives and Unionists, and Alliance deputy leader Naomi Long, who is Belfast Lord Mayor. During the campaign,Alliance depicted Mrs Long as a superherobut Mr Robinson has shown he can draw on reserves of hidden strengths himself….

2358 BBC Radio Ulster reporter Will Leitch says that DUP sources at the North Antrim count at Seven Towers Leisure Centre believe Ian Paisley Junior of the DUP will win the seat comfortably though the turnout may be down from 62% in 2005. He’s not sure when all the votes will be counted – it’s a distinctive constituency given that one of the ballot boxes has to travel by boat, from Rathlin Island.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan2350 FOYLE ALERT: Mark Durkan, SDLP candidate for Foyle, tells Radio Ulster that he is standing at the back of Templemore Leisure Centre because of the bomb alert. He says a sheltered housing complex where a number of elderly people live is also currently being evacuated. He says that those who are responsible for the alert did not stand for election because "they knew they would get very little support".

DUP leader Peter Robinson2348 Is the plot thickening in DUP leader Peter Robinson’s East Belfast constituency (see 2321 update) ? The TUV is claiming Alliance candidate Naomi Long has done well in some solidly loyalist areas.

2346 FOYLE ALERT: Professor of Politics at QUB, Rick Wilford, says on Radio Ulster that the Londonderry bomb alert is anti-politics, an attack on democracy, banal and predictable. He adds though that he is surprised that no contingency plans had been made, given the wide speculation that the election would be targeted.

BBC NI political correspondent Martina Purdy2343 A senior DUP source tells Martina Purdy they believe the DUP’s Ian Paisley Junior may be on about 50% with the TUV’s Jim Allister back on 16 or 17%.

2341 FOYLE ALERT: BBC Radio Ulster reporter Enda McClafferty says that it was hoped the count in Derry could go on because there was "no glass" in the area of the building where the votes are being counted – however because the media were in the reception which is surrounded by glass, the building was evacuated.

2339 Conservative and Unionist North Down candidate Ian Parsley has conceded the constituency to Lady Sylvia Hermon.On Facebook.

2333 MORE BREAKING NEWS from the counting centre for the Foyle and East Londonderry constituencies. The count centre has now been evacuated after a car was abandoned in the car park outside the Templemore sports complex. BBC reporter Keiron Tourish has to finish his piece to camera in a hurry as everyone is ushered away from the building.

2328 The Conservatives and Unionists found it tricky picking their candidate to unseat the DUP’s William McCrea asSouth AntrimMP.UUP leader Sir Reg Empey entered the frayafter a row over their original choice of local candidate andhis Chris Grayling-like views on gay bed and breakfast guests. Sir Reg was parachuted in from east Belfast (not literally) at an advanced stage of the campaign, and as an outsider he has had to work hard to get his campaign off the ground. In saying that, Magherafelt native Mr McCrea isn’t exactly a local, having previously been Mid-Ulster MP from 1983 to 1997. However, he’s had a lot longer to gauge the lay of the land in South Antrim. Can the TUV’s Mel Lucas put enough of a dent in the DUP vote to let Sir Reg in?

UUP leader Sir Reg Empey2325 The BBC’s Rosy Billingham says that both the DUP’s William McCrea and Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey have arrived at the Valley Leisure Centre for the South Antrim count. She points out that if Sir Reg is elected, he will effectively be Sir Reg Empey-Empey – get it? Say it out loud…

Naomi Long2321 BBC Radio Ulster reporter Simon Hunter in East Belfast says that Alliance deputy leader Naomi Long is not happy with how she has polled there.

2320 Professor of Politics at Queen’s University Rick Wilford says on BBC Radio Ulster that if Rodney Connor is elected in Fermanagh and South Tyrone, we are likely to see greater momentum towards unionist unity candidates before the Assembly election in 2011.

2317 The BBC’s Andy Martin says that in North Down, it looks like a Lady Sylvia Hermon landslide. She may have got as much as 60% of the vote. She was on 50% in 2005, but the DUP ran in that contest. North Down is a funny sort of place…well, election-wise anyway.Its last three MPs were somewhat out of step with party politics in Northern Ireland: independent unionist James Kilfedder (from 1970 to 1995); the UKUP’sBob McCartney(1995 to 2001); andLady Hermon(2001 – ?). Lady Hermon was elected as an Ulster Unionist MP but she strongly objected to the party’s electoral pact with David Cameron’s Conservatives.After more than a year of keeping people guessing,she quit the UUP in March and is standing as an independent. Her Ulster Conservative and Unionist opponent is Ian Parsley,a former Alliance memberwho stood as its candidate in last June’s European election. The DUP’s decision to stand aside will assist Lady Hermon, who is so popular in North Down that one caller told a BBC Radio Ulster show he would vote for her if she was "standing for al-Qaeda".

2315 Regarding that exit poll from earlier, AP Westminster political correspondent David Stringer says the revised exit poll puts the Lib Dems up. New figure: Cons 305 seats; Lab 255; Lib Dems 61; Others 29.

2311 BREAKING NEWS from the counting centre for the Foyle and East Londonderry constituencies. Police are saying a car has been driven into the car park of Templemore Sports complex and abandoned. The bomb squad has been called but the count is continuing.

2309 The DUP’s Arlene Foster says on BBC One NI that turnout in Fermanagh South Tyrone is in the "high 70s".

2307 The big story inFermanagh and South Tyronehas been unity candidates or the lack of them.Sinn Fein tried to get the SDLP to stand asideand give Michelle Gildernew a clear run at defending her seat. In return they would stand down Alex Maskey in South Belfast to assist SDLP MP Alasdair McDonnell. This offer was rebuffed by the SDLP, who are fielding their own celebrity candidate, UTV exile Fearghal McKinney.Alex Maskey dropped out of the race,amid Sinn Fein accusations of vote-splitting. It’s clearly a vulnerable seat. When Mrs Gildernew first took the seat in 2001 after the UUP’s Ken Maginnis retired, she won by just 53 votes (she had a 4,582 majority in 2005). On the unionist side, things are a lot clearer:the DUP and UUP agreed to step asidein favour of independent unionist Rodney Connor, the former chief executive of Fermanagh District Council who bears a passing resemblance to Ken Maginnis.

2303 Daithi McKay, Sinn Fein candidate for North Antrim,says on Twitter that it is looking good for the DUP there. The battle forNorth Antrimhas been rumbling on for almost three years to the day. It was 8 May 2007 when Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness took their pledge of office andformally brought back power-sharing.In the months that followed, hardline DUP MEPJim Allisterquit the party in protest and set up the Traditional Unionist Voice. Since then, Mr Paisley has stood down as DUP leader and his son Ian Junior isseeking to replace him as MP.In last June’s European election, Mr Allister lost his seat but gave the DUP a bloody nose by making asizeable dent in their vote. What happens next? Watch this space…

David Cameron2254 Arlene Foster on BBC TV coverage says the DUP won’t be running to David Cameron, though he may be running to them. David McNarry of the UCU says its clear the Conservatives are going to form the government.

Ross Hussey2252 One of the more colourful election hopefuls is Ross Hussey, the Ulster Conservative and Unionist candidate inWest Tyrone.Mr Hussey isa dead ringer for Family Guy character Peter Griffin.When he was told about his doppelganger by his 23-year-old nephew and a young party worker, instead of taking offence he got them to produce an election poster with Peter Griffin on it. Unfortunately this didn’t really fit in with the UCU’s election strategy. Any other NI election lookalikes?Let us know on Twitter.

2246 FACT!Just 21 of the 108 candidates standing are women.However,South Downwill probably be getting a female MP. In the green corner we have SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie who wants to succeedparty veteran Eddie McGrady.In the other green corner it’s Sinn Fein’s Caitriona Ruane, the former tennis champion and education minister at Stormont. Mr McGrady had a 9,000 majority over Ms Ruane in 2005, but the balance between the two parties was much closer in the 2007 Assembly elections, when Ms Ruane topped the poll. Some unionists in South Down reckon her controversial handling of her education briefmay encourage tactical voting for the SDLP.Intriguing.

2242 Here’s a crash course in key election battlegrounds,courtesy of BBC NI political editor Mark Devenport. He drily notes that in days gone by, "it was sometimes said that you could put a donkey up in certain parts of Northern Ireland and pin an orange or green rosette on it, with a fair degree of certainty the animal would get elected". This election does promise to be different, he adds.

2240 Speaking of Twitter, veteran journalistEamonn Mallietweets that the chap who runs the election counts in Sunderland has been over to advise his counterparts in Northern Ireland about how ours can be speeded up. Houghton and Sunderland South is aiming to be the first to declare in the whole of the UK within the next ten minutes. Sunderland South, as it was known before boundary changes, has been first to declare in every election since 1992.

Twitter symbol2238 If you’re one of those new-fangled Twitter people, you can follow us@bbcvoteni2010.It seems like the best hashtag to use in following the election tweets is#geni.If this means nothing to you, well there’s no need for alarm.

2235 Alliance candidate Gerry Lynch says his rival Sammy Wilson of DUP "is going to walk East Antrim" and he has already congratulated him.

BBC Northern Ireland editor Mark Devenport2231 BBC NI political editor Mark Devenport says that if the exit poll is true, while the DUP on their own wouldn’t be able to guarantee anyone a majority, our local MPs could certainly be in the mix.Read more of his thoughts here.

2226 If you’re planning on staying up late for the results, here’s a very rough estimate of declaration times. Of course, these are subject to change as the night goes on: West Belfast should be first at 0030, with North Belfast next at 0130. East Belfast and South Belfast could be in at 0200, then its Foyle, North Down and West Tyrone at 0230. Four constituencies could be in at 0300 – East Antrim, South Antrim, South Down and Upper Bann. At 0330 we’ve got the last lot: East Londonderry, Fermanagh South Tyrone, Lagan Valley, Mid Ulster, Newry and Armagh, North Antrim and Strangford. Phew!

2216 Over the course of the night, you may hear a lot of talk about adjusted voting figures from the 2005 general election. In essence, there have been boundary changes in some constituencies so to give an idea of the actual changes in the vote, a team of experts has gone back into the records to find out what the result would be in 2005 if the new boundaries were in place back then. Confused?There’s a more in-depth explanation here.

2213 BBC Radio Ulster reporter Andy Martin says the largest number of vote counters is at Newtownards Leisure Centre, where 199 of them are counting up votes from North Down, Strangford and East Belfast. "The room itself resembles a cross between a football pitch and a massive exam hall. Supervisors are quietly explaining to the counters what they are to do, and how to have their figures verified. Many here are counting for the first time and three ladies sitting together say they have no idea what to expect. Their first question is "when does the drinks trolley come round?". The hall is divided into two teams, each literally on a separate pitch – North Down and East Belfast. When the whistle blows for time on those counts, the hope is that completed ballots from the far reaches of the Ards Peninsula will have arrived and be ready for a new combined team to finish the game."

2206 That exit poll means that we are anticipating that the Conservatives would be 19 seats short of an overall majority. Mr Cameron might find that winning one or two seats in Northern Ireland plus a deal with the DUP may not be sufficient to give him a majority.

2205 Could the DUP be in play here? The exit poll for BBC, Sky and ITV News predicts a hung parliament with the Conservatives the largest party. The poll puts the Conservatives on 307 seats, Labour on 255, the Liberal Democrats on 59 and others on 29. By the way, there’s no exit poll for Northern Ireland so we’ll just have to wait.

2200 And that’s it… polling has just closed. Political sources in Northern Ireland are indicating a fairly high turnout of more than 60%. Voting is reported to have been particularly brisk in western areas especially Fermanagh and South Tyrone. Ballot papers will now be collected from 610 locations across Northern Ireland and taken to eight different counting centres.

2158 This is the first time that we’ve had overnight counting in Northern Ireland. During the Troubles, overnight counts did not take place because of security reasons. Ballot boxes were kept locked up overnight for counting in the morning, much to the frustration of candidates, agents, political parties and the media.There’s a much fuller explanation here.

2155 Hello and welcome to our live blog of general election night in Northern Ireland. Eighteen seats are up for grabs and we’ll be here all night to bring you the latest developments as they happen. According to rough guestimates, the first result could be in 0030 and the last at 0330 but the situation remains, as airports have been telling us in recent days, "fluid". Stay tuned.

This article is from the BBC News website. © British Broadcasting Corporation, The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

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