One battle won for Ritchie

SDLP chief Margaret Ritchie easily won the battle for her own political heartland, despite speculation over her leadership.

The sitting MP for South Down fought off a challenge from Sinn Fein - and a potentially huge psychological blow for her party - to remain the largest force in the constituency.

Despite a disappointing poll for the SDLP across Northern Ireland, the former Social Development Minister increased support by an impressive four per cent in her own backyard.

The poll-topping MLA dismissed any worries over a leadership battle, saying “it is not an issue at all”.

She added, “Quite clearly, we have much work to do in terms of organisation. Patsy McGlone, as deputy leader, and myself will be having a discussion over the next number of days about the best way forward.”