Election 2017: East Belfast’s big parties fight to hold seats

Statues in Pitt Park, east Belfast
Statues in Pitt Park, east Belfast

The number of candidates in this constituency is down from 18 last year to 14, as the parties make a focused bid to maximise their seats.

The main parties are running as many candidates this year as they won seats last year: DUP three, Alliance two and UUP one.

Two of last year’s MLAs, Joanne Bunting of the DUP and Naomi Long of Alliance, will perhaps be wanting to top the poll less comfortably this time as they did in 2016 (Bunting just ahead of Long) if they are to manage their vote to best effect.

By running two candidates Alliance is conceding that its best hope is to hold its seats and so improve its relative position (two out of five seats is 40% of the seats; two out of six is only 33%).

The DUP might find it harder to hold three than the UUP does to hold one but the last seat will be between those two, unless something unexpected happens such as a TUV surge.

A Green MLA is more likely, given how well the party did last year (2,183 votes).

The Conservatives have sometimes polled strongly in East Belfast but not last year.

John Kyle of the PUP is likely to be one of the strongest showing of the smaller candidates but will probably fall short of a quota.

No nationalist has ever come close to a seat in East Belfast and that is unlikely to change this year.

2017 candidates:

• Andy Allen (UUP)

• Sheila Bodel (Conservative)

• Joanne Bunting (DUP)

• Seamus Michael de Faoite (SDLP)

• David Douglas (DUP)

• Andrew Girvin (TUV)

• John Kyle (PUP)

• Naomi Long (Alliance)

• Chris Lyttle (Alliance)

• Jordy McKeag (Independent)

• Georgina Milne (Greens)

• Robin Newton (DUP)

• Mairead O’Donnell (Sinn Fein)

• Courtney Robinson (Cross-Community Labour Alternative)

2016 results:

• Joanne Bunting (DUP) 5,538 (14.9%)

• Naomi Long (Alliance) 5,482 (14.7%)

• Sammy Douglas (DUP) 4,230 (11.4%)

• Robin Newton (DUP) 3,875 (10.4%)

• Andy Allen (UUP) 3,047 (8.2%)

• Chris Lyttle (Alliance) 2,805 (7.5%)

• Tim Morrow (Alliance) 2,372 (6.4%)

• Ross Brown (Green) 2,183 (5.9%)

• John Kyle (PUP) 1,772 (4.8%)

• Maggie Hutton (Ind) 1,099 (3%)

• Chris McGimpsey (UUP) 1,095 (2.9%)

• N O Donnghaile (SF) 946 (2.5%)

• Andrew Girvin (TUV) 887 (2.4%)

• Jonny Lavery (UKIP) 631 (1.7%)

• C Robinson (Cross-Community Labour Alternative) 517 (1.4%)

• Neil Wilson (Cons) 477 (1.2%)

• Amy Doherty (SDLP) 141

• Erskine Holmes (NI Labour) 78

Electorate 65,740

Votes cast 37,623 (57.2%)