General election 2017: Wilson clear favourite in East Antrim

Fireworks over the coastal village of Glenarm
Fireworks over the coastal village of Glenarm

It has been over a decade since the DUP’s Sammy Wilson wrested control of East Antrim away from the grip of the Ulster Unionist veteran Roy Beggs, who had held the seat since it was first created back in 1983.

The DUP have picked up the lion’s share of the votes here at every election since 2005, and there is little reason to see that changing.

Incumbent Mr Wilson will be confident he can reclaim his seat in what is an overwhelmingly unionist constituency, which stretches from the shores of Belfast Lough to the rolling Glens of Antrim.

Roy Beggs Jr had tried and failed to reclaim his father’s seat back in 2015, and this time the UUP has given the mammoth task to newcomer John Stewart, who scored a shock victory in the recent Assembly election by winning a seat.

Alliance will once again be fielding Stewart Dickson, who managed to secure a solid 15% of the vote back in 2015.

UKIP candidate Noel Jordan, who polled a respectable 10.9% last time, is not contesting the seat and the party has not put forward anyone in his place.

Also standing is Mark Logan of the NI Conservatives – a party which registered just 549 votes in East Antrim back in 2015.

Sinn Fein’s Oliver McMullan, the first republican to win an Assembly seat in East Antrim, is standing once again, despite losing his Assembly seat back in March.

But neither he nor the SDLP’s Margaret McKillop will be able to eat into Mr Wilson’s lead to any great extent. It is a virtual certainty that the DUP man will retain his seat in this bastion of unionism.

Candidates for 2017:

• Stewart Dickson, Alliance

• Mark Logan, Cons.

• Margaret McKillop, SDLP

• Oliver McMullan, Sinn Fein

• John Stewart, UUP

• Sammy Wilson, DUP

2015 general election:

Sammy Wilson (DUP): 12,103 (36.1%)

R Beggs (UUP): 6,308 (18.8%)

S Dickson (Alliance): 5,021 (15%)

N Jordan (UKIP): 3,660 (10.9%)

O McMullan (SF): 2,314 (6.9%)

R Wilson (TUV): 1,903 (5.7%)

M McKillop (SDLP): 1,639 (4.9%)

A Wilson (Cons.): 549 (1.6%)

Electorate: 62,811

Turnout: 33,688 (53.6%)

Combined unionist vote: 73.1%

2010 general election:

Sammy Wilson (DUP): 13,993 (45.9%)

Rodney McCune (Ulster Cons. and Unionists): 7,223 (23.7%)

G Lynch (Alliance) 3,377: (11.1%)

O McMullan (SF): 2,064 (6.8%)

J McCamphill (SDLP):

2,019 (6.6%)

S Morrison (TUV): 1,826 (6%)

Electorate: 60,204

Turnout: 30,640 (50.9%)

Combined unionist vote: 75.6%