General Election 2017: Can DUP take North Down from Lady Sylvia?

Bangor Marina
Bangor Marina

North Down is a rare constituency indeed in Northern Ireland, being the sole seat held by an independent.

Lady Sylvia Hermon has been the area’s MP for the past 16 years despite leaving the UUP during that time to become an non-party political unionist.

The widow of former RUC Chief Constable Sir Jack Hermon split with the Ulster Unionists before the 2010 general election in opposition with its alliance with the Conservative Party.

She fought the election as an independent and even managed to increase her share of the vote.

At the last general election in 2015 Lady Sylvia polled nearly half of all votes cast in North Down, and given that her challenger – the DUP’s Alex Easton – is the same candidate as last time, few would expect the outcome to differ.

However Mr Easton can take encouragement from having gained the most first preference votes at the Assembly election three months ago.

The UUP had been due to field a candidate in North Down, but having announced recently elected MLA Alan Chambers as their nomination he was later withdrawn.

Leader Robin Swann said: “Given Sylvia’s previous links to the UUP, and the fact that North Down is a unique constituency, the (Ulster Unionist) Party decided to withdraw. Sylvia has enjoyed overwhelming support as the Member of Parliament for North Down.”

The views of the party leader are not reflected by former Ulster Unionist MLA Dr Ian Adamson OBE who signed Alex Easton’s nomination papers and is encouraging voters in North Down to vote DUP in this election.

Green Party leader Steven Agnew and Andrew Muir of the Alliance are likely to be the only other candidates to poll significantly in this unionist-dominated constituency.

Candidates for 2017:

• Green, Steven Agnew

• DUP, Alex Easton

• Ind, Sylvia Hermon

• Sinn Fein, Therese McCartney

• SDLP, Caoimhe McNeill

• All, Andrew Muir

• Ind, Gavan Reynolds

• Con, Frank Shivers

2015 general election results:

Sylvia Hermon (Ind.): 17,689 (49.2%)

A Easton (DUP): 8,487 (23.6%)

A Muir (Alliance): 3,086 (8.6%)

S Agnew (Green): 1,958 (5.4%)

M Brotherston (Cons.):

1,593 (4.4%)

J Lavery (UKIP): 1,482 (4.1%)

W Cudworth (TUV): 686 (1.9%)

T Woolley (SDLP) 355 (1%)

G Donnelly (Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol – CISTA):

338 (0.9%)

T McCartney (SF): 273 (0.8%)

Electorate: 64,207

Turnout: 36,041 (56.1%)

Combined unionist vote: 83.2%

2010 general election results:

Sylvia Hermon (Ind.): 21,181 (63.3%)

I Parsley (Ulster Cons. and Unionists): 6,817 (20.4%)

S Farry (Alliance): 1,876 (5.6%)

M Kilpatrick (TUV): 1,634 (4.9%)

S Agnew (Green): 1,043 (3.1%)

L Logan (SDLP): 680 (2%)

V Parker (SF): 250 (0.8%)

Electorate: 60,698

Turnout: 33,543 (55.3%)

Combined unionist vote: 88.6%