The second count has now been completed. The SDLP has edged ahead by just over 400 votes to lead the remaining contenders. The DUP is now lagging behind in fourth place.
Jim Allister will be eliminated and the redistribution of his votes is crucial in establishing how the final results will look. If, as expected, his supporters do not transfer readily to Diane Dodds, then Jim Nicholson would be overwhelming favourite to claim the second spot. We will now see just how deep antipathy between Allister’s party and the DUP really runs.
2nd prefs: SDLP: 94814; UCUNF 94385; DUP: 91260.
Update: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! Jim Nicholson is the second MEP elected, passing quota for the Conservatives and Unionists. He has said a few victorious words by the side of Owen Paterson who also looks rather pleased (to say the least). There are now Conservative aligned MEPs returned for each part of the United Kingdom. That is pan-UK unionism in action!