Historic result in South Down for Alliance with ‘first liberal MLA’

Historic result in South Down for Alliance with ‘first liberal MLA’

11 May 2022

ALLIANCE’S Patrick Brown wiped away a tear when it became clear that he had ended many years of hurt by securing an Assembly seat for the first time.

And there was a warm embrace between the old and the new just moments before the formal declaration that he had been elected between the newcomer and one of Alliance’s founder members Jim Hendron, a previous party chairman and president.

The Rowallane councillor — who now has to vacate his Newry, Mourne and Down Council seat — has consistently been banging on the Assembly door and after steadily building 

the party’s profile across the district over recent years and increasing his vote at successive elections, he finally made it.

The delighted Alliance man said it will be the “greatest honour of his life” to represent South Down at the Assembly for the next five years and that it was time to get to work.

“Alliance has made history in South Down by electing the constituency’s first liberal and progressive MLA,” he declared, dedicating his victory to the 6,942 people who gave him their first preference vote.

He continued: “This has been a six-year project for Alliance in South Down. It has finally come to fruition and I am proud that we have focused on running an entirely positive campaign, securing Alliance as the third biggest party in the constituency.

“This is a monumental shift from the 500 or so votes we used to get when I first joined the party and think it is a reflection of a changing Northern Ireland; one that is rejecting tribal and regressive politics in rising numbers and sending a strong mandate for politics dedicated to building a shared future, fixing our flawed public services, moving towards a fairer economy and tackling the climate crisis.”

Five years ago, the Alliance man polled 4,535 Assembly votes but increased this by just over 12.6% to 6,942 following an intense campaign, earning lavish praise from his party leader Naomi Long.


Slowly but surely, the Alliance man kept chipping away and in 2017 after his first preference Assembly vote was announced, he sat on a seat at the Lisburn Leisureplex where the count was held. He knew that momentum was building behind him and his party and that his day would come.

“It feels fantastic to be elected and a real weight off the shoulders,” he said on Saturday afternoon.

“Six years of hard work by the South Down Association to get this over the line and elect our first MLA has paid off. We saw the beginning of that surge in 2017 when we came very close to an Assembly seat and we saw our vote go up to almost 7,000 at the Westminster election in 2019 which is fantastic.

“People said at the time that that was our high water mark and a protest vote. It is clear that vote is there to stay for Alliance and we can only continue to grow as other parties fall by the wayside and those who are non-aligned, cross-community and liberal middle ground, coalesce around the Alliance Party as the only vehicle for real change and delivery in Northern Ireland.

“I am up for the challenge ahead and we can’t wait to get a strong staff team behind us to keep our office in Downpatrick as we have a big plan of delivery for the town. I made a number of election promises about my plan to ‘restore our county town’ and that was a very important campaign issue.

“We were talking about the big picture a lot in this election and while a lot of parties did that, we also talked about local issues. All politics is local and it was not just Downpatrick we were talking about, but the Albert Basin Park in Newry, the Carlingford Lough environment and other issues the length and breadth of the constituency, but Downpatrick is my home town and as the biggest town in the county it has been sorely let down by its political representatives over the past number of decades.”

Mr Brown says the people of Downpatrick need a “champion”; someone who has a clear plan of delivery for them and while he admits he does not have a magic bullet, he says he is committed to working for the town and doing his very best to push forward the plan he has laid out for it.

“I cannot wait to start work,” he added.