UUP stalwart Roy Beggs will ‘see what direction I want to take’ after losing Assembly seat

UUP stalwart Roy Beggs has told of how he will “see what direction I want to take” as he reflected on losing the Assembly seat he had held for 24 years.

Mr Beggs, a former Stormont deputy speaker, also said he believes he “didn’t sell myself on social media” ahead of last week’s election.

“I was too involved in the Assembly, I didn’t sell myself on social media, candidates selling themselves on social media were the ones who were most successful, in many cases over-selling themselves,” he told the Sunday World.

“I’m more modest, I’ve never believed in over-egging myself.”

For the first time since East Antrim was created as a constituency in 1983, there is nobody from the Beggs family representing the area at either Stormont or Westminster.

Mr Beggs father, also called Roy, was the first MP when electoral boundaries were redrawn to form the constituency area in the early 1980s.

In the Assembly election, Mr Beggs – his party’s longest serving MLA having held the seat since 1998 – polled only 3,549 first preference votes.

“Of course there is disappointment, but you have to accept the will of the people,” he said.

“It was a new experience for me, I have been successful a number of times over my 24 year career, but it was clear from the early tallying something different was happening.”

He described how as it emerged he was not going to be re-elected, he left the count centre and started taking his election posters.

“I had a coffee and then started to take my election posters down,” he said.

“I’ve always done that, straight away, so even on Friday (count day) and then on Saturday, I was taking my posters down. It’s better to get on with it, rather than wondering what on earth went wrong.”

He said “coming into the office on Monday morning was difficult, some of the staff have been with me for a long time”. but he would now look to the future.

“I’ll take some time away and see what direction I want to take, I need to be in employment, it’s a big challenge,” he said.

“I’ll have to see of there is any room to use the experience I have gathered over the last 24 years.”

Parliamentary reports show first speaker only - follow this lnk for the full transcription.
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