Green Party Northern Ireland leader loses seat on Belfast City Council

Green Party Northern Ireland leader Mal O’Hara has lost his seat on Belfast City Council.

He remained in contention until the final stage of the count in the Castle District Electoral Area (DEA), but lost in the end to Carl Whyte of the SDLP.

By 9.30pm on Friday, almost half of the 60 seats on the capital’s council had been filled.

Sinn Fein appeared to be on course to hold their strength on the council.

Northern Ireland council elections
Alliance Party leader Naomi Long, left, with Nuala McAllister and Sam Nelson at Belfast City Hall as the results come in (Liam McBurney/PA)

Alliance leader Naomi Long said she believes her party had performed well in Belfast.

Ms Long said she expected any gains for her party to come in the later stages of the count as the transfers in the single transferrable vote system are distributed.

Alliance gained a seat from the DUP in the Balmoral DEA.

On Friday evening, Sinn Fein were leading the way with nine councillors, the DUP had seven while Alliance had five seats, the SDLP had three seats and the Green Party had one.

In 2019, Sinn Fein was the largest party in Belfast with 18 councillors, however, this total was a drop from the 19 seats it won at the 2014 and 2011 local government elections.

Northern Ireland council elections
Left to right, Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill, Tina Black and Mary Lou McDonald at Belfast City Hall (Liam McBurney/PA).

Four years ago, the DUP had 15 councillors, a gain from the 13 seats it won in 2014, but still down on the 17 seats it won in 2011.

Meanwhile, the Alliance Party had 10 councillors in 2019, ahead of the SDLP who had six, the Green Party had four, People Before Profit had three, the UUP had two and the PUP had two.

Sitting Lord Mayor Tina Black was among the earliest elections on the first day of the count on Friday.

Her Sinn Fein colleague Geraldine McAteer was the first elected to the capital’s council in the Balmoral DEA.

A short time later, Ms Black, along with DUP candidates Frank McCoubrey and Nicola Verner, were elected in the Court DEA.

Five DEAs were counted on Friday: Black Mountain, Castle, Court, Balmoral and Lisnasharragh, with the Balmoral, Castle and Lisnasharragh counts having completed by 9.30pm.

Counting in the remaining DEAs of Botanic, Oldpark, Ormiston, Collin and Titanic, are due to start on Saturday.

If the counting has not completed on Saturday, it will resume on Monday.