This was always going to remain a unionist-dominated area, but one major change saw veteran Sinn Fein politician Oliver McMullan, the area’s sole nationalist representative, lose his seat to UUP Stormont newcomer John Stewart.
The redistribution of DUP man Gordon Lyons’ surplus got Mr Stewart over the line. Mr Stewart will now leave his seat on Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to join re-elected UUP MLA Roy Beggs on the Hill.
Mr Beggs, who achieved the second-highest number of first preference votes with 5,121, was elected at stage six.
Another casualty of the new streamlined Assembly was East Antrim’s third DUP seat, formerly held by Alastair Ross. The DUP had aimed for a hat-trick by parachuting in Antrim and Newtownabbey councillor Stephen Ross as a replacement, but he failed to make the cut.
Nevertheless, party favourite David Hilditch topped the East Antrim poll for the second year running.
Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson will also be returning to Stormont, but running mate Danny Donnelly lost out.
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