North Belfast

map East
                Antrim East Antrim East Belfast East Belfast East Londonderry Foyle Foyle Fermanagh & South Tyrone Lagan
                Valley Mid-Ulster North Antrim North Antrim Newry & Armagh North Belfast North Belfast North
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Maps and diagram by Conal Kelly

detailed map

This constituency takes in the northern quarter of Belfast City Council and adjacent parts of Newtownabbey District Council. The member of parliament has been Nigel Dodds since the 2001 election; he defeated Cecil Walker (UUP) who had represented North Belfast since 1983. The DUP hold three of the Assembly seats, Sinn Fein two, and the SDLP one (the DUP gained the UUP's seat in 2011, and the DUP and SF gained in 2003 from PUP and an independent Unionist). See also 1983-1992 North Belfast results, 1973-82 North Belfast results and 1950-1970 North Belfast results.

See spreadsheets from the 2011 Assembly election, the 2010 Westminster election, the 2007 Assembly election, the 2005 Westminster election, the 2003 Assembly election, the 2001 Westminster election, the 1998 Assembly election, the 1997 Westminster election and the 1996 Forum/talks election. See also the detailed guide from 2007 by "Sammy Morse".

North Belfast was expanded a little in 1983 and rather more in 1995, and further in 2010 when it gained six Newtownabbey wards, one from East Antrim and five from South Antrim. This made the new constituency 0.2% more Catholic, and 0.3% less Protestant than the old.

North Belfast's population (on the old boundaries) in the 2001 census was 86,066 (15th of the 18 constituencies).

Results of recent elections using new boundaries


DUP UUP Oth U Alliance Oth SDLP SF
2011a 37.1% 8.2%   6.3% 4.5% 14.0% 31.9%
2011lg 35.1% 8.7% 0.8% 7.6% 4.4% 12.9% 30.5%
2010w 40.0% 7.7%   4.9% 1.1% 12.3% 34.0%
2007a 35.6% 9.6% 5.0% 3.2% 2.4% 14.4% 29.8%
2005w 43.0% 9.5%
2.9% 0.9% 16.7% 27.0%
2005lg 36.2% 10.3% 5.4% 2.2% 4.4% 16.8% 24.5%

NB that the figures for elections before 2010 are projections onto the new boundaries. Figures for the old boundaries can be found at the bottom of this page.

2011 Assembly Election (six seats)

@Gerry Kelly (SF) 6,674 (19.9%)
@Nelson McCausland (DUP) 5,200 (15.5%)
@Alban Maginness (SDLP) 4,025 (12.0%)
@William Humphrey (DUP) 3,724 (11.1%)
Paula Bradley (DUP) 3,488 (10.4%)
@Caral Ni Chuilin (SF) 2,999 (9.0%)
@Fred Cobain (UUP) 2,758 (8.2%)
Billy Webb (Alliance) 2,096 (6.3%)
Raymond McCord (Independent) 1,176 (3.5%)
J.J. Magee (SF) 998 (3.0%)
John Lavery (WP) 332 (1.0%)

@ member of the Assembly when it was dissolved.

DUP 12,412 (37.1%, +1.5%) 3 seats
SF 10,671 (31.9%, +2.1%) 2 seats
SDLP 4,025 (12.0%, -2.4%) 1 seat
UUP 2,758 (8.2%, -1.4%) (-1)
Alliance 2,096 (6.3%, +3.1%)
Ind 1,176 (3.5%, -0.9%)
WP 332 (1.0%, +0.5%)

Electorate: 68,119
Votes cast: 34,280 (50.3%), spoilt votes 810 (2.4%)
Valid votes 33,470, quota 4,782

One of the DUP's gains, here from the UUP's Fred Cobain who finally ebbed beneath the level of viability; he was 442 votes behind the DUP's Paul Bradley on the last count, with 328 Nationalist surplus votes undistributed. On previous counts, Bradley had picked up twice as many Natonalist transfers as Cobain, so the real margin of defeat is probably greater.

2011 local government election

My projection of the votes cast in Belfast Castle, Oldpark, two wards of Court, Newtownabbey Macedon and five wards of Antrim Line:

DUP 11,711 (35.1%)
SF 10,166 (30.5%)
SDLP 4,298 (12.9%)
UUP 2,909 (8.7%)
Alliance 2,536 (7.6%)
IRSP 379 (1.1%)
PUP 258 (0.8%)
WP 170 (0.5%)
Inds 921 (2.8%)

In a six-seat STV election, these votes would have given the DUP and SF two seats, and the SDLP one, with the last between a third DUP candidate, the UUP and Alliance.

2010 Westminster election (one seat)

*@Nigel Dodds (DUP) 14,812 (40.0%, -5.6%)
@Gerry Kelly (Sinn Féin) 12,588 (34.0%, +5.4%)
@Alban Maginness (SDLP) 4,544 (12.3%, -3.9%)
@Fred Cobain (UCUNF) 2,837 (7.7%, +0.6%)
William Webb (Alliance) 1,809 (4.9%, +3.5%)
Martin McAuley (Independent) 403 (1.1%)
Electorate: 65,504; Total Poll: 37,233 (56.8%); Invalid Votes: 240 (0.6%); Valid Votes: 36,993

* incumbent
@ elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly from this constituency

Dodds will be happy to have retained his seat, but SF have been gradually closing the gap here over the last couple of elections. These votes, if cast in a six-seat Assembly election, would give the DUP and SF two seats each, the SDLP one, and the last seat between a third DUP candidate, the UUP and possibly Alliance.

2007 Assembly Election (7 March, six seats)

Full details of each count are available here.

*Nigel Dodds MP (DUP) 6973 (23.5%)
*Gerry Kelly (SF) 5414 (18.2%)
Carál Ní Chuilín (SF) 3680 (12.4%)
*Fred Cobain (UUP) 2498 (8.4%)
*Nelson McCausland (DUP) 2462 (8.3%)
*Alban Maginness (SDLP) 2212 (7.4%)
Pat Convery (SDLP) 1868 (6.3%)
William Humphrey (DUP) 1673 (5.6%)
 Raymond McCord (Independent) 1320 (4.4%)
Peter Emerson (Green) 590 (2.0%)
Thomas McCullough (Alliance) 486 (1.6%)
^Robert McCartney (UKUP) 360 (1.2%)
John Lavery (WP) 139 (0.5%)
Rainbow George (Make Politicians History) 40 (0.1%)

*Elected in 2003 from North Belfast
^Elected in 2003 from North Down
DUP 11,108 (37.4%, +3.2%) 2 seats
SF 9,094 (30.6%, +3.6%) 2 seats
SDLP 4,080 (13.7%, -3.1%) 1 seat
UUP 2,498 (8.4%, -1.0%) 1 seat
Ind 1,320 (4.4%)
Green 590 (2.0%, +1.2%)
Alliance 486 (1.6%, +0.7%)
UKUP 360 (1.2%)
WP 139 (0.5%, +0.2%)
Rainbow George 0.1% (+0.1%)

Electorate 49,372
Votes cast 30,067 (60.9%); spoilt votes 352 (1.2%) 
Valid votes 29,715; quota 4,246

The DUP had a good chance at a third seat here, but balanced very poorly among their candidates enabling Cobain to retain his seat for the UUP; on the last count Humphrey DUP) was 792 votes behind McCausland (also DUP) who was in turn 149 votes behind Cobain (UUP), with all other votes distributed. Notable for a relatively good performance from dissident Unionist candidate Raymond McCord.

2005 Westminster election (5 May, 1 seat)

*@ Nigel Dodds (DUP) 13935 (45.6% +4.8%)
@Gerry Kelly (Sinn Fein) 8747 (28.6% +3.4%)
@Alban Maginness (SDLP) 4950 (16.2% -4.8%)
@Fred Cobain (UUP) 2154 (7.1% -4.9%)
Marjorie Hawkins (Alliance) 438 (1.4%)
Marcella Delaney (Workers Party) 165 (0.5% -0.1%)
Lynda Gilby (Vote for Yourself Rainbow Dream Ticket) 151 (0.5% +0.3%)

* outgoing MP.
@ Member of the Assembly

These votes, if cast in a six-seat STV election, would give the DUP three seats, SF two and the SDLP one.

2005 Local Government Election (7 June)

The constituency comprises 14 of 51 wards in Belfast (all 6 wards in the Castle DEA, all 6 wards in the Oldpark DEA, and 2 of the 5 wards in the Court DEA [Crumlin and Woodvale]) and 5 of 25 wards in Newtownabbey (5 of the 6 wards in the Macedon DEA [Abbey, Coole, Dunanney, Valley and Whitehouse]).

DUP 11,147.7 (37.0%)
Sinn Fein 8,028.1 (26.6%)
SDLP 5,007.7 (16.6%)
UUP 2,775.2 (9.2%)
PUP 1,017.1 (3.4%)
Newtownabbey Ratepayers Assoc 684.2 (2.3%)
Green 432 (1.4%)
Alliance 270 (0.9%)
Independents 802.6 (2.7%)

Extrapolating from the local government elections is tricky because the North Belfast constituency breaches two local electoral area boundaries. If we make some reasonable adjustments, we get these figures for the whole North Belfast constituency. The DUP, and SF would get two seats each, and the SDLP one, with the last between the UUP and a third DUP runner.

2003 Assembly election (26 November; six seats)

Also available: details of each count with analysis of surplus transfers.
*Nigel Dodds (DUP) 9276 (29.4%)
*Gerry Kelly (SF) 5524 (17.5%)
*Alban Maginness (SDLP) 3186 (10.1%)
Kathy Stanton (SF) 2990 (9.5%)
*Fred Cobain (UUP) 2961 (9.4%)
Pat Convery (SDLP) 2108 (6.7%) 
Nelson McCausland (DUP) 1500 (4.8%)
*Billy Hutchinson (PUP) 1358 (4.3%)
*Fraser Agnew (UUC) 802 (2.5%)
Frank McCoubrey (Ind) 469 (1.5%)
Eliz Byrne McCullough (NIWC) 467 (1.5%)
Marjorie Hawkins (Alliance) 305 (1.0%)
Peter Emerson (Green) 261 (0.8%)
Raymond McCord (Ind) 218 (0.7%)
Marcella Delaney (WP) 90 (0.3%)
John Gallagher (VFYS) 17 (0.1%)
DUP 10,776 (34.2%, +12.9%)
SF 8,514 (27.0%, +5.7%)
SDLP 5,294 (16.8%, -4.3%)
UUP 2,961(9.4%, -1.5%)
PUP 1,358 (4.3%, -4.8%)
UUC 802 (2.5%)
Inds 687 (2.2%)
NIWC 467 (1.5%)
Alliance 305 (1.0%, -2.1%)
Green 261 (0.8%, +0.2%)
WP 90 (0.3%, -0.1%)
VFYS 17 (0.1%)

Electorate 51,353 
Votes cast 31,997 (62.3%); spoilt votes 465 (1.5%) 
Valid votes 31,532; quota 4,505 

Reaction: As widely predicted, DUP and SF took extra seats at the expense of Agnew and Hutchinson. The final result was not even close, with 1521 votes separating Stanton and Hutchinson, and an undistributed SDLP surplus of 1064 which would only have widened the gap.

North Belfast had lost 15.90% of its electorate in the great electoral register shake-out, varying from 23.46% in the Ardoyne ward of Belfast to 9.86% in Cavehill ward, also in Belfast. 15 constituencies lost fewer voters, only South and West Belfast lost more.

2001 Westminster Election (7 June; 1 seat)

@Nigel Dodds (DUP) 16,718 (40.8%)
@Gerry Kelly (Sinn Fein) 10,331 (25.2%)
@Alban Maginness (SDLP) 8,592 (21.0%)
*Cecil Walker (UUP) 4,904 (12.0%)
Marcella Delaney (WP) 253 (0.6%)
Rainbow George Weiss (Vote for Yourself Party) 134 (0.3%) Best result in Northern Ireland

Electorate: 60,941; votes cast: 41,309 (67.7%); spoilt votes: 377 (0.9%)
Valid votes: 40,932; DUP majority 6,387

* outgoing MP.
@ Member of the Assembly

The least unexpected of the DUP's three gains in 2001, though the collapse of Walker's vote was dramatic - partly caused by a disastrous TV performance a few weeks before the election. If this had been a six-seat Assembly election, the DUP and SF would both have won two, the SDLP one, and the last seat would have been between the UUP and DUP.

2001 Local Government Election (7 June)

DUP 10028.3 (25%)
SF 9867.3 (25%)
SDLP 6969 (18%)
UUP 4218.9 (11%)
PUP 3059.3 (8%) Best equivalent result in Northern Ireland
Alliance 1288.2 (3%)
Newtownabbey Ratepayers Association 541.7 (1%) Best result in Northern Ireland
Women's Coalition 253 (1%)
Community Candidates 133.3 (0.3%)
Workers Party 84 (0.2%)
Ulster Third Way 11.2 (0.03%)
Independents 3407.0 (8%)
Total valid 39802.1

If we make some reasonable adjustments, we get these figures for the whole North Belfast constituency. And it is very tight. The DUP, SF and the SDLP certainly have a seat each. SF would be pretty likely to get a second seat. In that case there would be two more Unionist seats, with the DUP and UUP most likely to take them, but the PUP would have an outside chance.

1998 Assembly Election (25 June; six seats)

Also available: details of each count with analysis of surplus transfers.
 
*Nigel Dodds (DUP) 7,476 votes
*Alban Maginness (SDLP) 6,196 votes 
*Gerry Kelly (SF) 5,610 votes 
Billy Hutchinson (PUP) 3,751 votes 
Martina McIlkenny (SF) 3,165 votes 
Fraser Agnew (UU) 2,976 votes 
Martin Morgan (SDLP) 2,465 votes 
Fred Cobain (UUP) 2,415 votes 
*David Browne (UUP) 2,064 votes 
#Eric Smyth (DUP) 1,288 votes 
Glyn Roberts (All) 1,267 votes 
#John White (UDP) 911 votes 
Stephen Cooper (UKU) 748 votes 
Peter Emerson (Green) 257 votes 
Sam McAughtry (Lab) 255 votes 
Steven Doran (WP) 155 votes 
Kevin Blair (NLP) 76 votes 
Delores Quinn (Ind Nat Commty Cand) 50 votes 
SF 8,775 (21.34%) 1 seat
DUP 8,764 (21.31%) 1 seat
SDLP 8,661 (21.06%) 1 seat
UUP 4,479 (10.89%) 1 seat
PUP 3,751 (9.12%) 1 seat
UU 2,976 (7.24%) 1 seat
All 1,267 (3.08%) 
UDP 911 (2.22%) 
UKU 748 (1.82%) 
Green 257 (0.62%) 
Lab 255 (0.62%) 
WP 155 (0.38%) 
NLP 76 (0.18%) 
Ind NCC 50 (0.12%) 

Electorate 62,541 
Votes cast 42,066 (67.3%); spoilt votes 941 (2.2%) 
Valid votes: 41,125; quota: 5,876

* elected in 1996 Forum/talks election from North Belfast
# elected in 1996 Forum/talks election as a 'top-up' candidate.

The success of 'Ulster Unionist' Fraser Agnew, and the failure of any of the three main parties (SDLP, SF, DUP) to win a second seat, made North Belfast one of the shock results of the election. The UUP polled a mere 11% in a constituency which they represent at Westminster, and were lucky to beat the SDLP's Martin Morgan for the last seat, by 4,971 votes to 4,682. North Belfast remains Northern Ireland's most fissiparous seat.

1997 Local Government Election

Sinn Féin 7,682 (22%)
Ulster Unionist Party 6,707.4 (20%)
Social Democratic and Labour Party 4,807 (14%)
Democratic Unionist Party 4,707.1 (14%)
Progressive Unionist Party 3,120 (9%)
Alliance Party of Northern Ireland 1,750.8 (5%)
Ulster Democratic Party 1491.3 (4%)
Labour 919.2 (3%)
Newtownabbey Ratepayers Association 397.5 (1%)
Northern Ireland Labour 327.5 (1%)
Green Party 318 (1%)
Women's Coalition 209 (1%)
United Kingdom Unionist Party 187.5 (1%)
Workers Party 162 (0.47%)
Ulster Independence Movement 8 (0.02%)
Natural Law Party 5 (0.01%)
Others 799.5 (2%)
Total valid 34162.3 (52.67% of electorate)

1997 Westminster Election (one seat)

*Cecil Walker (Ulster Unionist Party) 21,478 (52%)
ƒAlban Maginness (Social Democratic and Labour Party) 8,454 (20%)
ƒGerry Kelly (Sinn Féin) 8,375 (20%)
Tom Campbell (Alliance Party of Northern Ireland) 2,221 (5%)
Peter Emerson (Green Party) 539 (1%)
Paul Treanor (Workers' Party) 297 (1%)
Andrea Gribben (Natural Law Party) 88 (0.21%)
Turnout 41,452 (64.19%)

* outgoing MP
ƒ Member of the Forum

1996 Forum election (five seats)

Also available: full list of 1996 candidates

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) 7,778 (19%); Nigel Dodds, William Snoddy elected
Sinn Féin (SF) 7,681 (19%); Gerry Kelly elected
Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) 7,493 (19%); Alban Maginness elected
Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) 6,938 (17%); David Browne elected
Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) 3,777 (9%)
Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) 1,874 (5%)
Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) 1,670 (4%)
United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP) 1,329 (3%)
Labour 571 (1%)
Northern Ireland Women's Coalition (NIWC) 486 (1%)
Workers Party 274 (WP) (1%)
Green Party 265 (1%)
Democratic Left (DL) 123 (0.30%)
Ulster's Independent Voice (UIV) 63 (0.16%)
Ulster Independence Movement (UIM) 41 (0.10%)
Independent McMullan 25 (0.06%)
Independent Chambers 21 (0.05%)

Electorate: 65,411; votes cast: 40,528 (61.9%); spoilt votes: 105 (0.2%); valid votes: 40,423

I was the lead candidate on Alliance's list for the 1996 Forum elections, and had been selected as the prospective parliamentary candidate for the Westminster election, before I went to work in Bosnia and withdrew (for the time being) from active politics in Northern Ireland. In the end I am certain that Tom Campbell got a better result in 1997 than I would have.

If the 1996 Forum election had been to elect six delegates by STV, and the voters' choice of parties translated directly to first-preferences for candidates, the DUP, the UUP, Sinn Fein, the SDLP and probably the PUP would all have won one seat. The last seat would have been an awfully tight squeeze between the second candidates of the DUP, the UUP, Sinn Fein, and the SDLP. Although the UUP and SDLP would have had fewer first preferences than DUP and Sinn Fein, they would both have benefited from transfers (from me!) to pull them ahead, and the UUP would probably have just shaded it.

Results 1996-2007


DUP UUP PUP Oth U Alliance Oth SDLP SF
2007a 37% 8%
6% 2% 3% 14% 31%
2005w 46% 7%

1% 1% 16% 29%
2005lg 37% 9% 3%
1% 6% 17% 27%
2003a 34% 9% 4% 4% 1% 2% 17% 27%
2001w 41% 12%


1% 21% 26%
2001lg 25% 11% 8%
3% 11% 18% 25%
1998a 21% 11% 9% 11% 3% 2% 21% 21%
1997lg 14% 20% 9% 5% 5% 9% 14% 22%
1997w
52%

5% 2% 20% 20%
1996f 19% 17% 9% 8% 4% 5% 19% 19%

 


See also: Full 2003 results from North Belfast | Full 1998 results from North Belfast | The Boundary Commission's Provisional Recommendations | Boundary Commission 2003 | Jim Riley's analysis of votes and seats in the 1998 Assembly election | The constituencies

Other sites based at ARK: ORB (Online Research Bank) | CAIN (Conflict Archive on the INternet) | Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey

Your comments, please! Send an email to me at nicholas.whyte@gmail.com.
 
This page has been developed with the support of a project grant from the New Initiatives Fund of the Electoral Commission. However, any views expressed on this page or, in particular, other pages of this website are those of the author and not necessarily shared by The Electoral Commission.

Nicholas Whyte, 3 June 1998; last updated 9 May 2010.



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