2016 election: DUP in North Down face battle to hold three seats

The marina at Bangor, the urban heart of North Down
The marina at Bangor, the urban heart of North Down

The DUP has perhaps the biggest challenge here as it seeks to defend its three seats.

North Down was the unionist constituency in which it typically had its smallest vote and yet it won half the 2011 seats, emerging with three times as many seats as the UUP, which is traditionally much stronger in the area.

That sole UUP MLA, Leslie Cree, is not standing this time. The party is fielding three candidates, with the reasonable expectation that it might pick up two seats. One of them, the relative newcomer Carl McClean, is one of the party’s most impressive young candidates.

Another of the UUP trio is Alan Chambers, a well known independent figure from the Groomsport area and who is now standing for Mike Nesbitt’s team.

North Down voters will also have the opportunity to vote for another popular local name, Brian Wilson.

His candidacy damages the hopes of the Greens, for whom he was once an MLA, and Alliance, for whom he was a councillor for years, representing Bangor West.

Both those two parties, however, have well established candidates in Steven Agnew and Stephen Farry. Alliance is trying also to bring in Andrew Muir, former mayor of North Down, who was one of the first openly gay politicians in the history of Northern Ireland.

North Down is a good area for the Conservatives, but even so Frank Shivers faces an uphill battle to get a seat.

If either nationalist candidate gets 1,000 votes, they will be doing well.

More stories from the election will be put on here later on Thursday and on Friday

2016 CANDIDATES:

• Steven Agnew (Green)

• John Brennan (TUV)

• Conal Browne (SDLP)

• Alan Chambers (UUP)

• Gordon Dunne (DUP)

• Alex Easton (DUP)

• Chris Eisenstadt (UUP)

• Stephen Farry (Alliance)

• Maria Lourenço (NI Labour Representation Committee)

• Thérèse McCartney (Sinn Fein)

• Carl McClean (UUP)

• Andrew Muir (Alliance)

• Bill Piper (UKIP)

• Frank Shivers (Cons.)

• Peter Weir (DUP)

• Brian Wilson (Ind.)

RESULTS OF 2011 ELECTION:

Alex Easton (DUP) 5,175 (18.4%)

Gordon Dunne (DUP) 3,741 (13.3%)

Peter Weir (DUP) 3,496 (12.4%)

Stephen Farry (Alliance) 3,131 (11.1%)

Steven Agnew (Green) 2,207 (7.9%)

Anne Wilson (Alliance) 2,100 (7.5%)

Alan McFarland (Ind.) 1,879 (6.7%)

Alan Chambers (Ind.) 1,765 (6.3%)

Leslie Cree (UUP) 1,585 (5.6%)

Colin Breen (UUP) 1,343 (4.8%)

Liam Logan (SDLP) 768 (2.7%)

Fred McGlade (UKIP) 615 (2.2%)

Conor Keenan (SF) 293 (1%)