The Independent MP who led the North Down poll a year after quitting the DUP has called for an urgent union convention.
In his victory speech on Saturday at a nearly deserted counting center in Jordanstown in what was the fifth and final constituency statement, Alex Easton also revealed he had lost friends who were “dear to him” after his resignation.
The heavy favorite to be elected in the first stage due to his huge personal vote, Easton went home with 9,568 first preference votes, an increase of more than 1,500 votes from his 2017 tally.
Calling on union leaders – including himself – to “get over their egos” and “do what is right for the people of Northern Ireland”, Mr Easton said it was a “ difficult election for trade unionism”.
“I demand that a trade union convention be called after the election so that trade unionism can meet, settle its differences and pull together, because we cannot afford not to do so.”
The Alliance push continued with the return of incumbent Andrew Muir and his running mate Connie Egan at the expense of the Green party’s Rachel Woods.
Mr Muir received 6,838 first preference votes and paid tribute to Woods’ work as a former MP, saying he considered her a “friend”, remarking that politics is a “cruel game”.
Mr Egan, who led the polls in the Bangor West local government elections in 2019 when she was just 24, was elected on the ninth count following a transfer hike .
Last candidate to deliver a speech from the podium after the long two-day count, Ms Egan noted that the last time a woman was elected to North Down was in 2003, adding that it was “so important “that the composition of the Assembly reflects “society”.
Meanwhile, the DUP’s Stephen Dunne, who was co-opted into a Stormont Assembly seat in place of his father just a week after his death last June, won re-election at the sixth count.
UUP Stalwart Alan Chambers completed the roster and was elected on the ninth count after garnering 3,825 votes.
Elected: Alex Easton (Independent), Andrew Muir (Alliance), Stephen Dunne (DUP), Alan Chambers (UUP) Connie Egan (Alliance)