An indicative constituency-by-constituency look at today’s election, with the emphasis on the nationalist and republican contests.
Gerry Adams’s constituency, where Sinn Féin is aiming for five seats, but that may be just to ensure four. The SDLP’s Alex Attwood and the DUP’s Diane Dodds should have the votes for one seat each, but if RSF candidate Geraldine Taylor can avoid early elimination, she could still be in the hunt at the end.
Nigel Dodds hopes his high profile can gain a third seat for DUP at expense of UUP’s lone voice, Fred Cobain. Sinn Féin should still be ahead of SDLP for the third nationalist seat, but the dark horse of Raymond McCord will take votes from all sides and will surely pose a challenge. It’s a toss-up for the last seat.
Alliance’s Anna Lo could take a seat here, and the SDLP will have a major fight to hold on to its two seats. SF’s Alex Maskey seems safe, while the DUP could also be in with a chance for an extra seat.
The PUP is sorely missing its former leader David Ervine, and it is hard to see his support passing onto the new leader Dawn Purvis. Peter Robinson’s huge vote may mean the DUP can win an extra seat at the PUP’s expense. Still not enough votes here for a nationalist Assembly member.
Newry and Armagh
Reports questioning former DUP man Paul Berry’s sexual preferences may spell the end of his political career. Former Sinn Féin Assembly member Davy Hyland has a good prospect here as an independent republican, and there is also a chance of an overall gain for nationalists at Berry’s expense.
Sinn Féin is hoping to hold onto its three seats here following the resignation of Geraldine Dougan. RSF’s Brendan McLaughlin should be a contender for Sinn Féin newcomer Michelle O’Neill, but the SDLP will also fancy their chances of a gain here.
The normal rules never apply in this leafiest of constituencies, and again there is no nationalist prospect. BBC journalist Brian Rowan is just the kind of candidate that could make an impact, while hardline unionist Bob McCartney should make it back here.
Another possible DUP gain from the UUP here, while on the nationalist side, the SDLP thinks it can win an unlikely third seat, leaving Sinn Féin with just one. Former Sinn Féin Assembly member Martin Cunningham will be happy to prove his point and could also be in the shake-up at the end.
SF’s Paul Butler is in with a good opportunity to take the SDLP seat, while the DUP can reasonably hope for four seats on back of Jeffrey Donaldson’s four quotas in Westminster poll two years ago. Alliance without former part leader Seamus Close may have to fight for its seat.
A DUP surge could see them stealing another seat from Ulster Unionists here. Sinn Féin’s Dessie Ward is also pushing to gain a seat here at the expense of the SDLP, but it’s a big ask. RSF is also testing the water here.
The SDLP’s Danny O’Connor could make a nationalist breakthrough here, with the UUP possibly suffering the consequences.
Another possible DUP gain here at the expense of UUP, now that John Taylor has ascended to Lordship. A battle between the DUP, outgoing Alliance man, Kieran McCarthy and the SDLP -- hoping for a first nationalist seat here -- in the last count.
Sinn Féin should hold its seat here, despite a challenge from independent republican Paul McGlinchey. Ultra-hardline unionists of varying hues will hope to accumulate enough transfers to be in with a shout for one of the DUP’s three seats, especially if the Paisley camp fails to manage its votes.
Sinn Féin’s Mitchel McLaughlin -- brought in from Derry in a gamble -- and Alliance party leader David Ford, must both win to keep their political careers intact. McLaughlin is the ideal candidate to win the needed SDLP transfers for a breakthrough here, but it could be close. Ford is also likely to keep his seat, possibly at the expense of the UUP.
The UUP is again facing a credibility battle here to hold onto its two seats, with the DUP hoping to add to its pair and the UKUP also hoping for a breakthrough. The two main nationalist parties will settle for one apiece, while RSF will be happy to escape early elimination.
Great attention will focus on the vote received by hunger striker Patsy O’Hara’s 74-year-old mother Peggy. There could be slippage in the SDLP vote and they will have a hard fight to retain their three seats. Sinn Féin are aiming for a third seat, but should be happy to hold their pair. Transfers are unpredictable, and socialist Eamon McCann will be a factor, but a win for O’Hara would be the story of the election.
There could be three republican seats here. RSF’s Joe O’Neill is the party’s most promoted candidate, and it will be a shock to the establishment if he wins enough votes to carry it off. Independent hospitals candidate Kieran Deeny is under threat, and the question is whether voters will afford him another chance. Sinn Féin should easily hold its two seats and will be looking for a third, while the SDLP views Deeny as a mere surrogate.
In contrast, there are five republicans on the ballot paper here, but it is hard to see three being elected. Sinn Féin’s chances of holding its two seats are boosted by the fact that the traditionalist republican vote is split between independent Gerry McGeough and RSF’s Michael McManus. It could be a republican dogfight in the final counts.