PUP Assembly candidate Russell Watton has thanked those who voted for him in last week’s election.
The Coleraine man picked up 1,356 first preference votes, but he says that the result has ‘encouraged’ him to keep fighting.
Speaking to The Times he said: “I’d like to thank my team and those who gave their time to help with my campaign. I could not have managed any of this without you all. I’d also like to thank my wife and family for their continual support and understanding.
“Congratulations go to my life long friend Maurice Bradley for successfully topping the poll and getting elected to Stormont, also Claire Sugden who fought and won an honourable solo campaign.
“Last Thursday’s local government elections threw up no real surprises in East Londonderry with the same parties returned as had been in office. We, in the Progressive Unionist Party have been bolstered by the fact our vote has doubled from the last time we stood and as such have learned quite a few interesting but worrying facts.
“We are still relatively small compared to the mainstream Unionist parties but are a party on the rise. We believe, despite what others would attempt to claim, that we are best served to represent grass roots Loyalism and have proved that by working closely within our communities we have increased voter turnout in working class estates.
“The fact that before I stood for Council, one of the largest housing estates in County Londonderry was polling 22% turnout, that has increased this time to 40%. The worrying fact here is that 60% of the electorate in these estates still feels disengaged from the political process and this is the task that faces us over the next period of time.
“We will not abandon those who have gained nothing from the so called peace dividend but will redouble our efforts to engage and empower them to fight for what is rightly theirs. We would encourage those who feel they would like to get involved in the political process, whatever their understanding, to contact us and get involved with building a better future for our Loyalist community.”