The standout theme to come from the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council elections is the amount of new faces that will be present in the Council chamber in the coming term.

In every ward in Fermanagh at least one new Councillor has been elected.

Sinn Féin still remains the largest party with 15 seats in the Council, however they did lose two seats, one each in Erne East and Enniskillen.

Both were significant as they were taken by candidates who ran strongly on local health issues.

Independent candidate John McCluskey, a vocal campaigner to restore a health surgery in Rosslea was elected on the first count with an impressive 1,286 votes which resulted in veteran Sinn Féin Councillor Brian McCaffery losing out.

The second casualty for Sinn Féin was Debbie Coyle in Enniskillen, who had her seat taken by Dónal Ó Cófaigh, a Cross-Community Labour Alternative candidate, a prominent health campaigner to protect the services in the South West Acute Hospital.

Speaking about her party’s fortunes in this year’s elections, Sinn Féin MLA Jemma Dolan said: “We have made gains in a number of areas across the north, including in areas where Sinn Féin have not previously had any elected representatives.

“We unfortunately lost a seat in Erne East and Enniskillen - and I pay tribute to long standing Councillors Debbie Coyle and Brian McCaffery who have worked tirelessly for the people they represented and for Sinn Féin. They may not be elected representatives, but they will continue to be activists and Republicans.

“We will take time now to reflect on this but let’s put this into perspective. We increased our vote in Erne North, Erne West and Enniskillen.”

In Erne North, John McClaughry of the UUP, the DUP’s Deborah Armstrong and Sinn Féin’s Siobhán Currie are the new Councillors in the area.

For the first time in history, Sinn Féin took the highest first preference votes in the area ahead of the Ulster Unionists, while the DUP increased their first preference votes in Erne North by over 60 per cent from 2014.

Commenting following the Council Election, DUP Leader Arlene Foster said,

“I would like to thank all those who voted for their local DUP Council candidates. Across the Fermanagh and Omagh area I was delighted that the DUP vote increased by 17 per cent overall, and within the Constituency of Fermanagh and South Tyrone we have strengthened our position as the largest Unionist Party. However, it is with regret that some of our candidates marginally missed out on being elected, which has proven even more the power and importance of each individual vote.

“As we enter into a new Local Government term, the DUP team can assure the public that we will work to deliver more and better services at the lowest possible rates. The DUP are the only party who take their seats in each level of Government, and together we will work to ensure true and proper delivery for all.”

Two of the youngest Councillors elected were in the Erne West DEA.

23-year-old Chris McCaffery (SF) and 24-year-old Adam Gannon (SDLP) were the final two elected in the District.

Mr. Gannon had to rely on transfers throughout the counts to get past the post ahead of Fionnuala Leonard of Sinn Féin.

He felt the wider appeal of his party, which he believes was evident in the transfers he received was the reason he managed to hold on to the SDLP seat in Erne West.

However the SDLP vote was down by 37 per cent in the ward compared to 2014.

Turnout figures across the four DEAs were up from 2014.

Enniskillen had the lowest percentage of voters at 56.04 per cent with Erne East recording the highest with a 71.62 per cent turnout. Erne West saw a turnout of 69.03 per cent and Erne North having a 63.2 per cent turnout.

With the increased number of voters there were a number of changes to the parties overall share of votes in the Fermanagh DEAs.

Overall, the DUP saw a 27 per cent increase on first preference votes from 2014. The increase in votes saw the party’s share of votes improve by three per cent this year. However the Ulster Unionists saw an almost fifteen per cent fall in first preference votes in Fermanagh, resulting in a five per cent share drop.

Sinn Féin improved their first preference votes by two per cent even though they lost two seats. Their overall share of votes for the election was down from 2014, dropping from 35 per cent to 33.34 per cent.

With the SDLP seeing their first preference votes fall by almost 10 per cent. This led to a drop in their overall share from 13 per cent to 11.1 per cent.

With voting turnout up compared to 2014, Independents doubled their share of the vote, going from five percent to 10 per cent.

This was as a result of their vote increasing from 1,508 in 2014 to 3,161 in 2019.

The Alliance was expected to poll strongly across Northern Ireland and although they only managed to secure one seat in the Council, in Omagh through Stephen Donnelly, Diane Little in Erne North and Matthew Beaumont in Enniskillen managed to bring in four times as many first preference votes for the party in Fermanagh in their first election campaign.