Sandra Overend 'disappointed' after losing seat at 'unnecessary election'

Sandra Overend with her father, and election agent, Billy Armstrong
Sandra Overend with her father, and election agent, Billy Armstrong

In a message of thanks to supporters after losing her seat in 2017's unexpected Assembly Election, Ulster Unionist Sandra Overend said she is disappointed the DUP and Sinn Fein have "been rewarded for the last ten years of misrule".

Following a count of Thursday's poll, voters in Mid Ulster returned all three Sinn Fein candidates, along with DUP MLA Keith Buchanan and the SDLP's Patsy McGlone.

But with a reduction in the number of seats available, an existing MLA was always going to lose out.

Mrs Overend said she was "disappointed" that it was her.

Following Friday's result she issued a statement saying: "First of all I want to thank sincerely each and every one who gave me their support at this election.

"I am humbled that so many placed their trust in me. Unfortunately, with the huge increase in nationalist votes combined with the reduction in seats for each constituency it was not enough to see me returned to the Northern Ireland Assembly, and, of course, I am hugely disappointed."

Speaking about her time as an MLA for the area, she added: "It has been an honour and a privilege to represent Mid Ulster at the Assembly since 2011, my greatest pleasure having been able to help so many local people whether at a local level in the constituency or at legislative level at Stormont. Indeed, people continued to call for help right up until polling day.

"I hope that they will say that I have done my best, but I am now sorry that that work cannot continue."

She went on to say that this election "was unnecessary, coming just 10 months after the last one", adding "it is unfortunate that people were left with no option but to go back to the polls having been terribly let down by the failure of the DUP and Sinn Fein to form a stable government".

"It is hugely regrettable that those two parties appear to have been rewarded for the last ten years of misrule," she continued.

"With the DUP and Sinn Fein having again been returned as the largest parties, it is now incumbent on them to work together to find a solution to the political crisis which they created, and a return to a government that works for everyone here.

"Sadly however, there appears to be little prospect of that in sight, and direct rule, or even another election appear to be distinct possibilities.

"I am proud to say that the Ulster Unionist Party ran a positive campaign across Northern Ireland, and in Mid Ulster we worked hard to bring our message to people in South Londonderry, East Tyrone and Torrent.

"To that end I want to thank my entire team, each having played a vital part in the campaign, my Election Agent, my father Billy Armstrong, who I can always depend on, our enthusiastic team of councillors, our young and vibrant team of canvassers, and my staff who kept the office running alongside.

"Special thanks to my nearest and dearest," she added, "all my family whose live have been framed by my life as an MLA; they have supported me, campaigned for me, sacrificed so much for the life that I’ve led, having given so much to others, I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

"I am very thankful for all the supportive messages that I’ve been receiving all evening; it is lovely that so many have taken time to get in touch. I now look forward to new challenges that lie ahead. Thank you."

Sandra lost out in count five to the SDLP's Patsy McGlone. Despite not meeting the quota he was deemed elected as winner of the most votes between the remaining two candidates.