Election previews - Antrim East & North

This is the first installment of a five-part constituency-by- constituency analysis of the parties and candidates in the up-coming Belfast Assembly elections, to be held on November 26th.

Each of the 18 parliamentary constituencies will return 6 members by single transferable vote (STV) to sit in the Stormont Assembly, thus making up its 108 members.


This constituency stretches along the coastal strip on the northern side of Belfast Lough and the western side of the North Channel. It takes in the whole of Larne and Carrickfergus district councils, and part of Newtownabbey district council, all of which are heavily unionist areas.

The member of parliament has been Roy Beggs (UUP) since East Antrim was created in 1983.

Results in Antrim East for the 1998 Assembly election were a surprise to many.

As transfers were counted, the SDLP candidate Danny O'Connor, who had started eighth, overtook candidates from first the UUP and then the DUP to take the final place by 49 votes, the closest margin of the election.

The vulnerable seats here are those of the two weakest parties, the UKUP and SDLP. The anti-Agreement unionist seat, -- once held by the UKUP -- like its successful candidate in 1998, will probably end up with the DUP.

Sitting members of the Assembly:

Roy Beggs Jnr UUP
Sean Neeson Alliance
David Hilditch DUP
Roger Hutchinson UKUP
Ken Robinson UUP
Danny O'Connor SDLP

The Party breakdown of this vote was:

Party - seats won - overall vote -overall percentage of vote

UUP - 2 - 10457 - 29.4%
DUP - 1 - 7889 - 22.2
Alliance - 1 - 7168 - 20.2
UKUP - 1 - 2866 - 8.1
SDLP - 1 - 2106 - 5.9
Ind. - 1571 - 4.4
PUP - 1432 - 4
SF - 746 - 2.1
UDP - 596 - 1.7
PA - 424 - 1.2
CON - 233 - 0.7
NLP - 32 - 0.1


This constituency is the rural north-eastern corner of Ireland. It takes in the whole of Ballymena, Ballymoney and Moyle district councils, all heavily unionist areas.

The member of parliament has been Rev Ian Paisley (DUP leader) since he first won the seat, defeating the UUP incumbent, in 1970. The constituency shrank considerably in the 1983 boundary review, losing territory to East and South Antrim, but was untouched in the latest round of changes.

Ian Paisley Snr will undoubtedly top the poll here. His son will be brought in on his transfers. The DUP has replaced its third outgoing Assembly member here, Gardiner Kane, with Mervyn Storey. Mr Kane appears on the ticket as an independent.

The Ulster Unionists controversially de-selected their junior minister James Leslie who had been thought of as an up-and-coming prospect for the party. The change in the team, however, did not alter its pro-agreement outlook. The outgoing Assembly member Robert Coulter remains a candidate along with the moderate unionist James Currie.

There are significant areas of republican support in the Glens - it had been thought Sinn Féin might run Oliver McMullan, an independent nationalist councillor. However he has been declared as a candidate in East Antrim, so they have plumped instead for Philip McGuigan from Dunloy - as a councillor in Ballymoney, who has been involved in the parades disputes in the village.

The combined nationalist vote in North Antrim is pretty close to two quotas, but the SDLP and Sinn Féin could end up battling with the two unionist parties for the fifth and sixth seats.

Sitting members of the Assembly:

Ian Paisley DUP
Sean Farren SDLP
Rev Robert Coulter UUP
Ian Paisley Jnr DUP
Gardiner Kane DUP
James Leslie UUP

The Party breakdown of this vote was:

(Party - seats won - overall vote - overall percentage of vote)

DUP - 3 - 18687 - 37.6%
UUP - 2 - 11064 - 22.3%
SDLP - 1 - 8415 - 16.9%
SF - 4045 - 8.1%
UTDU - 3297 - 6.6%
AP - 2282 - 4.6%
PUP - 641 - 1.3%
IND - 478 - 1%
UDP - 400 - 0.8%
IND - 194 - 0.4%
NLP - 156 - 0.3%
IND - 38 - 0.1%

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