Key races to watch in Northern Ireland

Now that the starting gun has been fired by the PM, what are some of the key races to pay attention to locally.

There are quite a few and as this is Northern Ireland the health warning comes with the importance of the right candidates being selected to stand in the right constituencies.

North Belfast

Currently held by DUP Deputy Leader, Nigel Dodds

Majority; 5,326 (Note this was with UUP and other Unionist parties out of the race).

Dodds has held this seat with a divided Unionist field before (2010 & 2005) though by much closer margins. Even with an increase in the Nationalist vote at the last Assembly Election, the fact that there are two strong Nationalist candidates (Gerry Kelly and Nichola Mallon) will make it difficult even in a crowded field to oust Dodds.

This will be one to watch, but even without a pact, Dodds would still have the edge in this constituency.

East Belfast

Currently held by the DUP’s Gavin Robinson

Majority; 2,597 (Note with was in a pact environment with UUP out of the race).

Gavin won this seat from the Alliance Party’s Naomi Long in what was the DUP’s No,1 target seat. Since 2015, the DUP has consistently out polled the Alliance Party in this constituency in both Assembly Elections. However, the key question is whether Naomi Long will stand as the party’s candidate again, it is incredibly difficult to see who could mount a serious challenge to the Robinson in this constituency aside from her.

South Belfast

Currently held by former SDLP Leader, Alasdair McDonnell

Majority; 906

McDonnell won his third term with the lowest winning share of the vote in the UK and this constituency has four parties polling within 10% of each other. The SDLP face problems on a few fronts, namely the rise of the Alliance Party and Sinn Fein in the constituency is eating into their vote and the growing dominance of the DUP within the Unionist fold in the area.

With just a 900 vote margin, the SDLP have little room for error & if the other parties get their candidates selections right this seat could fall with the DUP as the likely beneficiaries of vote splits on the centre left.

The other issue is that a Unionist pact could happen in this seat. There was a potential for this in 2015 but an agreement could not be reached between the DUP and UUP.

Fermanagh/South Tyrone

Currently held by former UUP Leader, Tom Elliott

Majority; 530 (Note this was with a pact amongst various Unionist parties)

Elliott won this seat from Sinn Fein’s, Michelle Gildernew and told the tale of the strong election that Unionism was having in 2015. The main problem Elliott faces now is that Nationalism is surging in his constituency, in particular Sinn Fein was the party that made gains in the constituency in March. Should this momentum continue for the party, that 500 vote margin will be overturned, but for Sinn Fein the only likely real candidate who could do this for them is Michelle Gildernew.

Elliott will need a pact with the DUP to hold this seat and that could have consequences for other constituencies.

South Antrim

Currently held by UUP’s Danny Kinahan

Majority; 949

Kinahan scored a surprise victory of Willie McCrea in 2015 which secured the UUP’s first victory at Westminster in a decade. This constituency has a mix of commuter belt and rural areas with Kinahan coming across as moderate Unionist & well liked across the community. However, depending on who the DUP run in this constituency, this will be a real battle within Unionism. Somebody like Diane Dodds, who has strong name recognition could give Kinahan a run for his money.

Or the wild card could be the DUP standing aside here for a clear run at South Belfast.

Upper Bann

Currently held by the DUP’s David Simpson

Majority; 2,264

Probably the most hotly contested race within Unionism. In 2015, Simpson saw off a challenge from the UUP’s Jo-Anne Dobson who actually increased the party’s share of the vote in the constituency. In 2017, it is difficult to see who the UUP will run, Dobson could stand again or the party’s sitting MLA, Doug Beattie could take up the campaign for the party.  The DUP have always known that there are vulnerabilities in this area and they will fight very hard to keep this seat in their column.

Another interesting development here could be whether the DUP/UUP agree a pact here to see off a possible challenge from Sinn Fein.

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  • Ryan

    Justice for members of the LGBT community for example.

  • North Down dup

    What is worse than living in a UI is living in a liberal country

  • Ryan

    Are you serious. Is the mainland not liberal?

  • Mark Petticrew

    Whilst Alliance’s so-called remoaner approach to Brexit may well be a bit of a stumbling block for some, I don’t think the antipathy held towards the DUP should be underestimated.

    A unionist pact will likely be a DUP-centric one, and as such any pact will prove to be another stumbling bloc for those UUP voters who – regardless of unionist unity – consider the DUP as being beyond the pale.

  • North Down dup

    Scotland yes England not as much as you think, I wouldn’t live on the mainland anyway

  • Ryan

    Was not aware that England was not as liberal as I thought it was. But in reality when you think about it, that makes sense. You kind of buy into the thinking in London forgetting about the quainter conservative areas.

  • lizmcneill

    ????

  • lizmcneill

    Why would anyone move here who wasn’t here already, let alone 800000 of them?

  • Deeman

    I believe ff will steal the show on the glory lap.

  • Croiteir

    What is this reconciliation Kevin, who or what is becoming reconciled to who(m) or what? The original post is deleted – I was pointing out the reason why your analogy did not fit.

  • the keep

    You are only accepting fact!

  • Paul Hagan

    If she is a unionist isn’t it time she started acting like it? Anyone would think her and the Tories wanted Scotland to leave

  • Paul Hagan

    There is no chance of Turkey joining the EU, especially not now. It was the UK trying to get them to join, Germany less so

  • Enda

    You’ll find most Nationalists are ambivalent at best towards WM elections. The elections are purely British. I only heard one mention of NI yesterday on BBC radio Scotland. Why should Nationalists give a hoot about an island that barely recognises them?

  • Enda

    She has to say that though. By even stating that the NI statelet is a country she must be clenching her buttocks at the cringe worthy embarrassment of the words coming out of her mouth.

    When the announcement comes that the statelet will be no more, at least two thirds of the Tory party will breath a sigh of relief in unison.

  • North Down dup

    Why should nationalists give a hoot because they pay for their benefits and dla cars, people of Derry got into the top 5 for the biggest spongers in the UK.

  • North Down dup

    Country are not the overwhelming people of NI see it as a country

  • Marcus Orr

    “Leaving Europe”
    The UK can’t leave Europe, that would be like Brazil trying to leave South America.
    The UK can leave the Brussels EU soviet though.

  • Marcus Orr

    We’re not a real country, and I’m a unionist.

  • Enda

    Nope, pure fallacy.

    The statelet doesn’t have a shared polity, one of the fundamental traits that makes a country a country, ergo not a country.

  • North Down dup

    Good for you, as I said the overwhelming people of NI see it as a country

  • Enda

    Perhaps even a better reason to come? The joint leader of one of the regions of the UK is having their funeral and she doesn’t attend?

    I’m sure if it was Nicola Sturgeon’s, Leanne Wood’s or even Arlene Foster’s funeral she would have been there.

    NI doesn’t matter to her, Nationalists even less.

  • Deeman

    Typical DUP bigotry. You should visit the Shankill, East Belfast and Portadown. Unemployment and Social deprivation is far from a nationalist problem.

  • Marcus Orr

    Only the people who are “overwhelmed” or the “underwhelmed” people too ? (sorry just messing around, you forgot the word “majority”

  • Enda

    I’m aware that some do, maybe 40% at the very most, but hardly a majority.

  • Deeman

    Who are these overwhelmed people that you refer to?

  • North Down dup

    As I said the overwhelming people of NI see it as a country as so does the prim minister

  • Deeman

    Overwhelming majority as in 40.1%?

  • North Down dup

    I would guess as high as 95 percent, even the overwhelming majority of Catholics would see it as a country unless their parents drill it into them it is not.

  • Marcus Orr

    It’s a province, not a country, in my humble opinion.

  • Marcus Orr

    I think that’s a wee bit high myself.
    And if unionists “drill” into their children that it’s a country, is that sort of drilling acceptable then ?

  • North Down dup

    Brilliant, no one drills it into any kids that NI is a country , radio TV papers …. in northern Ireland such and such has happened, they work it out themselves

  • North Down dup

    The question was why should nationalists give a hoot.
    Crocodile tears

  • Enda

    Haha, naw man, you’re a bit aff there.

  • Enda

    What’s the national language, who’s the national saint, what’s the national anthem (its own anthem, not the shared UK one) what’s the national flag?

    All of this along with not having a shared polity, you can’t call that a country.

  • Enda

    There’s not an ice cubes chance in hell that Turkey will be joining the EU now.

    Another excuse for the English electorate leaving the bloc expunged.

  • North Down dup

    1 English 2 St Patrick 3 O Danny Boy

  • North Down dup

    I hope not , but dirty politics you never know, their is a few high up eu mp’s pushing for it

  • Kevin Breslin

    Firstly there were Irish republicans who did patrol in Ireland with the British Army, secondly my point about reconciliation is that Sinn Féin seem to adopt a tunnel vision that those who fought for their cause are forgiven and those who fought against them or even criticised them are unforgiven.

    It’s a bit psychologically partitionist in my mind.

  • Enda

    1 English is the language of the UK, it isn’t indigenous to Ireland north or south.

    2 St Patrick is the patron Saint of Ireland – ‘IRELAND’ so united we stand on that.

    3 Danny Boy is commonly used by the ‘IRISH’ diaspora, particularly among Irish Americans. I would of thought you would have at least mentioned ‘Londonderry air’ but alas, neither is the official anthem of the NI state.

    And… no nationally recognised flag.

    No unified polity.

    No country.

  • North Down dup

    1 English is the national language of NI which as you said the UK it’s also the Republics, you never said what is the indigenous language of NI.
    2 ST Patrick
    3 Danny Boy is recognised as the NI anthem at the commonwealth games
    4 ST Patrick’s flag can be recognised as the flag of NI which I would be happy with

  • Enda

    1 English is a planter language
    2 St Patrick – yes, Irish patron saint
    3 Danny Boy isn’t official, it’s what is played because there is nothing else
    4 ‘ST Patrick’s flag can be recognised as the flag of NI which I would be happy with’

    But it isn’t recognised as the flag of NI which is precisely the point I am trying to make.

  • Enda

    Ah, the old catholic spongers adage.

    Well done you for that.

  • Enda

    Nationalists can see Tory austerity coming screaming over the horizon. The union will break.

  • Enda

    Nonsense. Utter utter utter nonsense.

  • North Down dup

    Every country in the world has a planter language, English is still the national language of the British Isles to date

  • Enda

    And the Wolfe Tones are headlining this years orange fest.

  • Enda

    Sooooo, the whole UI thing is about gay marriage?

    Tell me, what was it about before gay marriage became legal in the south?

    PS: What about two women, or is just the men part you focus on?

  • Enda

    What, like Britain?

    You won’t have much of a foot left after these ridiculous statements.

  • Enda

    You’re living proof that the union won’t last, you don’t even respect its laws or its way of life.

    You grasp the notion of union based on a perceived, romanticised nostalgia.

    Nothing more.

  • Enda

    3 countries and two thirds (or half the land mass if you prefer) of a provence.

  • Ciaran O’Neill

    What an absolute pile of dung. If you think so little of people from Derry then why all the clamour and emotion to keep them as part of “the wee pravince”? Surely if you have that much disdain for them then the best thing to be would be to cast such people off?

    Remember your words the next time you try to claim Seamus Heaney as “one of your own”

  • Ciaran O’Neill

    Them taigs. Just not doing as they are bid are they buddy?

  • Enda

    The Irish language was here first and owes much more to the Irishness of the place than English does.

  • North Down dup

    You’ve gone of track, read why I posted that

  • North Down dup

    What laws do I not respect in NI

  • North Down dup

    Never said that

  • Enda

    Yeah you did

    ‘Come on most catholics don’t really care about a full on ILA. Marriage equality they want a UI because two men can’t get married’

  • AntrimGael

    So you subscribe to the PSNI ‘spongers’ terminology about Catholics?

  • AntrimGael

    Harold Wilson took ownership of that phrase and he didn’t use it about Catholics.

  • Enda

    It’s just been added to the PSNI politically correct not-to-use lingo list.

    http://www.irishnews.com/paywall/tsb/irishnews/irishnews/irishnews//news/2017/04/18/news/-sponger-is-slang-for-catholic-says-psni-inappropriate-language-guide-999491/content.html

    I wonder what the no no idiom is for Loyalists?

  • North Down dup

    No Ryan said it, I was replaying to Ryan when he said Catholic’s would not want to live in the UK in the future because of gay marriage.
    You were not ment to take the last part of the post literally

  • North Down dup

    The question was about nationalists from Enda , read his post then you can understand why I sent that back, ciaran didn’t read the posts either

  • Enda

    My post was that Nationalists are ambivalent towards British elections, because they are Irish and care little for British politics in general.

    Your reply was that they should care because their benefits and DLA cars comes from the British tax payer, you then went on to say that people from Derry (who are mostly Nat/Catholic) are in the top 5 biggest spongers in the UK.

    What fake truth are you trying to peddle in the face of evidence?

  • AntrimGael

    Boilerburners???

  • Enda

    Haha. Yes, that’s a possible contender, although they do like to burn more than that too.

  • Enda

    No, the text that I copied and pasted are your words.

  • banana man

    I really wish you were a legit spokesperson for the DUP. This comment reminds me of Fosters crocodile gaffe.

  • North Down dup

    How. It was Enda who said why should nationalists give a hoot about about an island that dosnt recognises them, they should because they pay for their benefits and dla cars,
    Only friendly banter most people on hear give out a million times worse

  • North Down dup

    Why

  • Enda

    Where did he say that? Gay marriage is legal in both Britain and the south – the only place it isn’t is the statelet.

  • Enda

    You don’t respect the laws that are passed in Britain, a clear demonstration that you don’t respect the democratic wishes of the island that you hold so dear.

    The northern state is nothing without Britain, it’s not very much with Britain if I’m being honest, but most of its political institutions are tied with Britain, and without Britain it would cease to be.

    Why do you want to be British, but yet not be the same as Britain.

    Baffling.

    We’ve come very far as species technologically, but I’m afraid time travel is quite a ways off.

  • mickfealty

    How many times have you been chucked off Slugger now NDDUP?

  • North Down dup

    You have to tell me what I did wrong or said wrong,

  • mickfealty

    If you look at the rules, I don’t actually. Onus is on you to behave properly.

  • North Down dup

    Onus is on me to behave properly, you would find it hard to justify any time I’ve been banned,
    Slogger is a good site and I enjoy your election blogs very much.
    Unionists on hear are getting chucked of too easy compared to some hateful republican posts which gets so many likes.

  • mickfealty

    Don’t be daft. I get that from jokers who like to imply I’m slinging them out only because their nationalists. You get slung out because of behaviour not your political conviction.

  • North Down dup

    Unionists on hear must be 1in 10, it’s very easy to get ganged up. I still don’t understand my bad behaviour when it comes to posts, my problem must be that I reply to every post (good manners) I will have to work out then what post’s I will not reply to. Cheers

  • mickfealty

    I understand that.