Fermanagh and South Tyrone 1973-1982

82a 12.3%* 3.4% 31.4%**
2.0% 2.4%

3.0% 1.8% 0.5%



17.0% 28.0%

17.3% 36.0%
75cc 6.4% 15.2%* 30.4%** 2.3% 2.8% 2.8%




43.6% 5.1%

25.0% 26.3%
73a 3.5% 14.9%* 29.2%**
3.4% 5.1% 4.2% 39.7%**

General note: Fermanagh and South Tyrone had the highest turnout in Northern Ireland in every one of the general elections covered below (1982, 1979, 1975, 1974 x 2, 1973).

See spreadsheets for 1973 Assembly, February 1974 Westminster, October 1974 Westminster, 1975 Convention, 1979 Westminster and 1982 Assembly.

Assembly Election, 20 October 1982 (five seats)

Owen Carron MP (SF) 14,025
Ken Maginnis (UUP) 10,117
* Austin Currie (SDLP) 6,800
Raymond Ferguson (UUP) 5,877
Ivan Foster (DUP) 4,324
Bert Johnston (DUP) 2,965
Joseph Maguire (SDLP) 2,912
Francie Molloy (SF) 2,700
Cecil Noble (UUP) 2,597
David McQuillan (SDLP) 2,288
* Ernest Baird (UUUP) 2,010
Tommy Owens (WP) 1,394
John Haslett (Alliance) 1,171
Votes by party: 
UUP 18,591 (31.4%) 2 seats (1.9 quotas)
SF 16,725 (28.3%) 1 seat (1.7 quotas)
SDLP 12,000 (20.3%) 1 seat (1.2 quotas)
DUP 7,289 (12.3%) 1 seat (0.7 quotas)
UUUP 2,010 (3.4%, 0.2 quotas)
WP 1,394 (2.4%, 0.1 quotas)
Alliance 1,171 (2.0%, 0.1 quotas)

Electorate: 73,930
Votes cast: 73,930 (82.9%); spoilt votes 2,171 (3.5%)
Valid votes: 59,180; quota: 9,864

* Elected to the 1975 Constitutional Convention

The DUP effectively took the seat previously won by Ernest Baird for Vanguard, and sitting MP Owen Carron, this time standing for Sinn Féin, took one of the SDLP's two seats from 1975. The runner up was Francie Molloy of SF, who finished on 7603 votes to 8146 for Ivan Foster of the DUP. On the last count an SDLP surplus was transferred, splitting 32 votes to Foster, 755 to Molloy and 1751 non-transferable. If half of the non-transferable votes had gone to Molloy instead he would have been elected instead of Foster (bearing in mind that there were also 310 votes to distribute from UUP surpluses).

Westminster by-election, 20 August 1981 (one seat)

Owen Carron (Anti-H-Block Proxy Political Prisoner) 31,278 (49.1%)
Ken Maginnis (UUP) 29,048 (45.6%)
Seamus Close (Alliance) 1,930 (3.0%)
Tom Moore (Workers' Party Republican Clubs) 1,132 (1.8%)
Martin Green (General Amnesty) 249 (0.4%)
Simon Hall-Raleigh (The Peace Lover) 90 (0.1%)

Anti-H-Block Proxy Political Prisoner majority: 2,230; electorate 72,834; spoiled votes: 804; votes cast: 88.6%

This by-election was caused by the death of hunger-striker Bobby Sands, whose twenty-five day term as a Westminster MP is the briefest tenure of anyone since the newly elected MP for Smethwick was killed in a road accident the day after the 1945 election. Carron had been his election agent; new legislation barred "convicted felons" from standing for parliament, otherwise another hunger-striker would probably have been nominated (and likely elected too). It's noticeable that 4,000 more people voted in this by-election than in the April one, mostly for centre candidates. Carron, like Sands, was the youngest member of the House of Commons, and like Sands never attended (though from choice rather than necessity).

Westminster by-election, 9 April 1981 (one seat)

Bobby Sands (Anti-H-Block/Armagh Political Prisoner) 30,493 (51.2%)
Harry West (Ulster Unionist Party) 29,046 (49.8%)

Anti-H-Block/Armagh Political Prisoner majority: 1,446; electorate 72,283; spoilt votes: 3,280; votes cast: 86.9%

This was probably the most significant single by-election in Northern Ireland in the last thirty years. Sands was the leader of the IRA prisoners in the Maze prison and had been a major figure in their campaign for political status over the previous few years. His hunger strike strategy energised the Republican movement both North and South, and his victory in the by-election caused by the sudden death of independent MP Frank Maguire was the first electoral success of the militant Republican movement since the Troubles began. The point is particularly well made in an article by Danny Morrison and while I don't agree with his sentiments I do agree with his analysis. Sands was the youngest member of the House of Commons when elected, but since he never attended this is rather academic.

Westminster Election, 3 May 1979 (one seat)

*Frank Maguire (Independent) 22,398 (36.0%)
Raymond Ferguson (UUP) 17,411 (28.0%)
Austin Currie (Ind. SDLP) 10,785 (17.3%)
Ernest Baird (UUUP) 10,607 (17.0%)
Peter Acheson (Alliance) 1,070 (1.7%)

Independent majority: 4,987; Electorate: 71,541; Turnout: (88.9%)

* sitting MP

An interesting race, where veteran SDLP man Austin Currie ignored his party's decision not to contest the election against incumbent Frank Maguire, and Ernest Baird vied for the credibility of the UUUP in what was effectively its first electoral trial since he had led it out of Vanguard as a minority faction. Both were unsuccessful, but the election did Currie more good in the long run.

Constitutional Convention election, 1 May 1975 (five seats)

*Harry West (UUP-UUUC) 12,922
*Austin Currie (SDLP) 9,984
*Ernest Baird (VUP-UUUC) 8,067
*Thomas Daly (SDLP) 7,145
Thomas Murray (SDLP) 4,143
David Calvert (DUP-UUUC) 3,389
John McKay (UUP-UUUC) 3,194
Eugene Lyttle (Republican Clubs) 1,501
Bill Barbour (Alliance) 1,464
George Cathcart (UPNI) 1,245
Votes by party: 
[UUUC got 27,572 votes (52.0%) and won 3 seats (3.1 quotas)]
SDLP 15,444 (24.9%) 2 seats (1.7 quotas)
UUP 16,116 (30.4%) 2 seats (1.8 quotas)
VUP 8,067 (15.2%) 1 seat (0.9 quotas)
DUP 3,389 (6.4%, 0.4 quotas)
Rep Clubs 1,501 (2.8%, 0.2 quotas)
Alliance 1,464 (2.8%, 0.2 quotas)
UPNI 1,245 (2.3%, 0.1 quotas)

Electorate: 70,344
Votes cast: 55,176 (78.4%); spoilt votes: 2,122 (3.8%)
Valid votes: 53,054; quota: 8,843

* Member of the 1973 Assembly

The same balance of parties as in the 1973 election, and indeed four out of the five people elected were the same. Thomas Murray of the SDLP was the runner-up with 5123 votes on the last count, a very long way behind John McKay who had been taken almost a thousand votes over the quota by transfers from David Calvert (DUP). Calvert subsequently shifted his electoral attention to Armagh where he was more successful.

Westminster Election, 10 October 1974 (one seat)

Frank Maguire (Independent) 32,795 (51.8%)
*@Harry West (UUP-UUUC) 30,285 (47.9%)
Alan Evans (Communist Party of Ireland) 185 (0.3%)

Independent majority: 2,510; Electorate: 71,343; Turnout: 88.7%

* sitting MP
@ Member of Assembly (which by this time had been prorogued)

This was the only seat to change hands in Northern Ireland in this election. Maguire was not a complete abstentionist, and his vote was once or twice crucial to the minority Labour government in the House of Commons. However he abstained in the crucial vote of confidence which led to the 1979 election.

Westminster Election, 28 February 1974 (one seat)

@Harry West (UUP-UUUC) 26,858 (43.6%)
*Frank McManus (Unity) 16,229 (26.3%)
Denis Haughey (SDLP) 15,410 (25.0%)
Hubert Brown (Pro-Assembly Unionist) 3,157 (5.1%)

Ulster Unionist Party (UUP - UUUC) majority: 10,629; Electorate: 70,615; Turnout: (87.6%)

* sitting MP
@ Member of Assembly

One of numerous constituencies where the UUUC defeated an incumbent MP with rather less than half of the votes cast. Harry West, who was the leader of the UUP at the time, has the dubious distinction of being the only MP who was elected in February 1974, lost his seat in October 1974, and never got to Westminster otherwise. Michael Ancram, the present Tory party chairman, and Paul Tyler, then a Liberal, now a Liberal Democrat, were both first elected in February and lost their seats in October, but both were later elected again. Another Liberal, Michael Winstanley, later Lord Winstanley, was elected in February 1974 and lost his seat in October, but had previously been an MP from 1966 to 1970. Apart from those four, all MPs who gained a seat in February kept it in October, and all who lost in October had managed to hold on in February.

Assembly Election, 28 June 1973 (five seats)

*Austin Currie (SDLP) 11,016
Ernest Baird (Vanguard) 8,456
*John Taylor (UUP, anti-White Paper) 8,410
*Harry West (UUP, anti-White Paper) 8,198
Thomas Daly (SDLP) 7,511
David McQuillan (SDLP) 4,074
James McQuaid (Republican Clubs) 2,923
Jack Hassard (Ind pro-White Paper) 2,008
William Mitchell (DUP) 1,974
Patrick Reihill (Alliance) 1,960
David Brien (Ind) 396
Vote by party:
SDLP 22,601 (39.7%) 2 seats (2.4 quotas)
UUP (anti) 16,608 (29.2%) 2 seats (1.8 quotas)
Vanguard 8,456 (14.9%) 1 seat (0.9 quotas)
Rep Clubs 2,923 (5.1%, 0.3 quotas)
Ind pro-White Paper 2,008 (3.5%, 0.2 quotas)
DUP 1,974 (3.5%, 0.2 quotas)
Alliance 1,960 (3.4%, 0.2 quotas)
Ind 396 (0.7%, 0.04 quotas)

Electorate: 68,733
Votes cast: 58,148 (84.6%); spoilt votes 1,222 (2.1%)
Valid votes 56,926; quota 9,488

* Member of the Northern Ireland House of Commons when it was dissolved.

The runner-up in the election was the SDLP's third candidate, David McQuillan, who finished on 5,176 votes, a long way behind Harry West's 9,084; so far behind in fact that the Republican Clubs' candidate had not yet been eliminated and finished on 3,561. Brian Walker has the name of the Republican Clubs' candidate as "McDaid"; James Knight however has him as "McQuaid" and as he was writing nearer the time this seems more likely. Three of the four Stormont MPs who had represented parts of the area were elected; the fourth, John Brooke (later Lord Brookeborough) was not able to get a UUP nomination.

Austin Currie was Minister for Housing, Local Government and Planning in the power-sharing Executive. Harry West became leader of the UUP in January 1974.

See also:

Results from 1973 to 1982 for each seat: East Belfast | North Belfast | South Belfast | West Belfast | North Antrim | South Antrim | Armagh | North Down | South Down | Fermanagh and South Tyrone | Londonderry | Mid Ulster

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.

Nicholas Whyte, 25 March 2003, last updated 3 April 2003 by Tineke Vaes.

The Author | What's New | Your Comments

Disclaimer:© Nicholas Whyte 1998-2004 Last Updated on Wednesday, 12-Jan-2005 12:12