Well before it was announced, it had become clear that a new Councillor was to be elected in Enniskillen.

Dónal Ó Cófaigh, a Cross-Community Labour Alternative (CCLA), had taken 720 first preference votes and with transfers was looking likely to increase that total.

In fact, it had become so clear that DUP leader, Arlene Foster who was at the Omagh count, had congratulated Mr. Ó Cófaigh long before it had become official.

With the transfers from fellow Unionist candidates helping to push Howard Thornton and Robert Irvine (both UUP) over the line, the final seat was between Sinn Féin’s Debbie Coyle and Mr. Ó Cófaigh, with the CCLA candidate eventually taking it on the seventh count and filling the final seat in the four Fermanagh wards.

Following the official confirmation from the Deputy Returning Officer, Brendan Hegarty, Mr. Ó’Cófaigh had a brief celebratory huddle with supporters and admitted that this election had been a sort of last chance saloon in his attempt to get back into politics.

“It’s been a long march. I did go into the political wilderness for a while and what has happened is vindication that we can create a cross-community politics that works for working class people, that brings us together whatever religion that is,” said Mr. Ó Cófaigh.

“There is a future that doesn’t involve division and conflict which I think is inevitable unless we build something different.

“I’m looking forward to having the platform to really advocate on the issues that really matter, things like our local hospital, decent local jobs and public services.

“We have one in five people in Enniskillen living in food banks and politicians more interested in flags and maintaining inequality and we need a different type of politics and hopefully this is a chink of light that show we can do something different.

The newly elected Councillor promises to challenge and hold the Council to account.

“There has been a very cosy arrangement in the Council in the way it has operated. There have been many meetings where things, for example the Necarne issues, have been held in confidential matters.

“Councillors have been told not to go to public consultations in case they are influenced.

“I think we need to see a return to democracy and I think those other Councillors who have been elected on local health issues, they share everything I stand for and we need to see if we can bring a wind of change to Fermanagh and Omagh Council.”

The UUP’s Howard Thornton and running partner Robert Irvine spoke of the relief of finally getting elected and that both of them are now determined to continue on the work they had been doing over the last four to five years for all communities.

“It’s a statement in regard to us as personalities for the amount of work we put in, in the area,” said Councillor Irvine.

“We do not see it as a party vote, we see it very much as a personal vote and a lot of that came through in the transfers. We put a lot of work in in the new Council and we do intend to put in a lot of work in the forthcoming four year term.”

Part of the Ulster Unionist campaign was focused on the rates issue in the District.

They were the only party to vote against a rates hike.

Chairman Thornton said that that is what people want and the UUP will be looking to deliver that in the new mandate for Council.

Councillor Irvine also stated that his party will be looking at the potential for devolution of certain powers back to Councils in the new term.

“We have an appetite now to actually do more for people locally and I think people can see that we do deliver if we were given the power.”

The DUP’s Keith Elliott topped the Enniskillen ward and he was delighted to have seen his vote increase and believes the hard work he has put in over the last five years has resulted in people coming out and voting for him.

“I’m over the moon. My vote is up and I suppose it’s good that it happened so quickly.

“I know the last five years a lot of hard work put in and the big thing is getting results for people and doing your best.

“If you get results, you get results on the day and thanks very much to everybody who has come out and voted for the Democratic Unionist Party.”

The SDLP’s Paul Blake and Sinn Féin’s Tommy Maguire completed the ward, with Councillor Blake thrilled to retain the seat.

“Absolutely ecstatic for the SDLP to increase vote and for my own personal vote. It is a good sign for us in Fermanagh,” said Councillor Blake.

“I hope this is a good sign that we are now seeing a change away from sectarian politics.”