West Belfast 1973-82


DUP V UUP Oth U Alliance Oth Lab WP/RC SDLP SF
82a 12.8%
13.1%* 3.7% 8.0%* 0.4%
7.3% 24.4%* 30.3%*
79w 11.2%
24.8%
6.1%
1.6% 6.9% 49.5%
75cc 5.5%
30.1%** 7.4% 9.2%* 6.1%
3.8% 37.9%**
74wo 36.5%

6.0%
0.5%
8.0% 49.0%
74wf 36.4%



11.9% 6.5% 4.2% 41.0%
73a 3.3% 4.3%* 27.7%* 8.8%* 8.5%* 4.5% 5.1% 5.1% 32.8%**
NB in the above table I have divided the 1973 West Belfast coalition votes (totalling 40.8%) between UUP, Ind U and Vanguard.
See spreadsheets for 1973 Assembly, February 1974 Westminster, October 1974 Westminster, 1975 Convention, 1979 Westminster and 1982 Assembly.

Assembly election, 20 October 1982 (4 seats)

Gerry Adams (SF) 9,740
*Joe Hendron (SDLP) 5,207
Thomas Passmore (UUP) 4,505

William Dickson (DUP) 4,394
Will Glendinning (Alliance) 2,733
Mary McMahon (WP) 2,493
Cormac Boomer (SDLP) 2,145
*Hugh Smyth (Ind U) 1,255
Mary Muldoon (SDLP) 1,016
Alex Maskey (SF) 627
John McAnulty (PD) 144
Votes by party: 
SF 10,367 (30.3%) 1 seat (1.5 quotas) best result for SF in Northern Ireland
SDLP 8,368 (24.4%) 1 seat (1.2 quotas)
UUP 4,505 (13.1%) 1 seat (0.7 quotas)
DUP 4,394 (12.8%, 0.6 quotas)
Alliance 2,733 (8.0%) 1 seat (0.4 quotas)
WP 2,493 (7.3%, 0.4 quotas) best result for Workers Party in Northern Ireland
Ind U 1,255 (3.7%, 0.2 quotas)
PD 144 (0.4%, 0.02 quotas)

Electorate 57,726
Votes cast: 36,078 (62.5%); spoilt votes: 1,819 (5.1%)
Valid votes: 34,259; quota 6,852

* Elected to the 1975 Constitutional Convention

West Belfast went from six to four seats for this election, and the two seats that disappeared were the two Unionist seats won in 1975 by Hugh Smyth and the second UUP candidate. Sinn Fein won one of the SDLP seats, and Alliance astonishingly held on, transfers from the Workers Party, SDLP and Sinn Fein pulling Glendinning to a final total of 5163 to 4919 for Dickson of the DUP (with Passmore of the UUP finishing only just ahead on 5165).

Westminster Election, 3 May 1979 (one seat)


* Gerry Fitt (SDLP) 16,480 (49.5%) best result for SDLP in Northern Ireland
Thomas Passmore (UUP) 8,245 (24.8%)
William Dickson (DUP) 3,716 (11.2%)
Brian Brennan (Rep Clubs) 2,282 (6.9%)
John Cousins (Alliance) 2,024 (6.1%)
Derek Peters (NILP) 540 (1.6%)

Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) majority: 8,235; Electorate: 58,915; Turnout: 60.4%

* sitting MP

Fitt's vote down substantially, thanks no doubt to his outspoken criticism of the IRA, but the Unionist combined vote dropped even further giving him a slight increase in his percentage. Fitt had in a way brought the election about by abstaining in the crucial vote of confidence which the Labour government lost by one vote.

Constitutional Convention election, 1 May 1975 (six seats)

*John Laird (UUP-UUUC) 8,433
*Paddy Devlin (SDLP) 6,267
*Bob Cooper (Alliance) 3,293
Joe Hendron (SDLP) 2,840
*Hugh Smyth (Ind U) 2,644

Paschal O'Hare (SDLP) 2,452
*Jean Coulter (UUP-UUUC) 2,325
Thomas Conaty (Ind) 2,052
*Desmond Gillespie (SDLP) 1,986
Edith Goligher (DUP-UUUC) 1,958
James Sullivan (Rep Clubs) 660
John Brady (Rep Clubs) 418
Bernard McDonagh (Rep Clubs) 262
John Morris (Communist) 86
Peter Kerins (Communist) 44
Vote by party:
[UUUC got 12,716 votes (35.6%) and won 2 seats (2.5 quotas)]
SDLP 13,545 (37.9%) 2 seats (2.7 quotas)
UUP-UUUC 10,758 (30.1%) 2 seats (2.1 quotas)
Alliance 3,293 (9.2%) 1 seat (0.6 quotas)
Ind U 2,644 (7.4%) 1 seat (0.5 quotas)
Ind 2,052 (5.7%, 0.4 quotas)
DUP-UUUC 1,958 (5.5%, 0.4 quotas)
Rep Clubs 1,340 (3.8%, 0.3 quotas)
Communist 130 (0.4%, 0.03 quotas)

Electorate: 63,869
Votes cast: 37,514 (58.7%); spoilt votes 1,794 (4.8%)
Valid votes: 35,720; quota 5,103

* Member of the 1973 Assembly

All six Assembly members from 1973 stood again and the only change, apart from Coulter's change of allegiance, was the replacement of the SDLP's Gillespie by his party colleague Joe Hendron. Gillespie was the runner up with 4514 votes to 4693 for Independent Unionist Hughie Smyth; Hendron had 4902 votes, so if he and Gillespie had balanced more effectively - or if the SDLP had attracted more transfers from Republican Clubs and from Thomas Conaty - both Hendron and Gillespie would have been elected at Smyth's expense.

Westminster election, 10 October 1974 (one seat)

*@ Gerry Fitt (SDLP) 21,821 (49.0%)
John McQuade (DUP-UUUC) 16,265 (36.5%)
Kitty O'Kane (Rep Clubs) 3,547 (8.0%)
Ken Gibson (Volunteer Political Party) 2,690 (6.0%)
Peter Kerins (Communist) 203 (0.5%)

Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) majority: 5,556; Electorate: 66,278; Turnout: 67.2%

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

Fitt was able to pull in some voters who had supported Price (and perhaps also Boyd) in the February election, while the Unionist vote was split between McQuade and Gibson.

Westminster Election, 28 February 1974 (one seat)

*@ Gerry Fitt (SDLP) 19,554 (41.0%)
John McQuade (DUP-UUUC) 17,374 (36.4%)
Albert Price (Independent) 5,662 (11.9%)
John Brady (Republican Clubs) 3,088 (6.5%)
William Boyd (NILP) 1,989 (4.2%)

Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) majority: 2,180; Electorate: 65,651; Turnout: 73.0%

* sitting MP
@ Member of Assembly

The only one of the twelve Northern Ireland constituencies won by a pro-Sunningdale candidate, Deputy Chief Executive Gerry Fitt, and even that by a comparatively narrow margin.

Assembly election, 28 June 1973 (six seats)

*John Laird (UUP, anti-White Paper / West Belfast Loyalist Coalition) 11,479
*Paddy Devlin (SDLP) 7,743
Hugh Smyth (Ind U / West Belfast Loyalist Coalition) 3,625
Bob Cooper (Alliance) 3,160

Desmond O'Donnell (SDLP) 2,112
William Boyd (NILP) 1,942
Desmond Gillespie (SDLP) 1,940
Jean Coulter (Vanguard / West Belfast Loyalist Coalition) 1,765

Gerry Campbell (SDLP) 1,764
*Patrick Kennedy (Rep Lab) 1,750
Raymond O'Hagan (Rep Clubs) 1,389
William Spence (DUP) 1,366
John O'Hare (Rep Clubs) 702
Reginald Donnelly (Alliance) 194
Maureen Smyth (Alliance) 169
Patrick Doherty (NILP) 151
James Stewart (Communist) 123
Votes by party:
[WBLC total 16,869 (40.8%) 3 seats (2.9 quotas)]
SDLP 13,559 (32.8%) 2 seats (2.3 quotas)
UUP (anti) / WBLC 11,479 (27.7%) 1 seat (1.9 quotas)
Ind U / WBLC 3,625 (8.8%) 1 seat (0.6 quotas)
Alliance 3,523 (8.5%) 1 seat (0.6 quotas)
NILP 2,093 (5.1%, 0.4 quotas)
Rep Clubs 2,091 (5.1%, 0.4 quotas)
Vanguard / WBLC 1,765 (4.3%) 1 seat (0.3 quotas)
Rep Lab 1,750 (4.2%, 0.3 quotas)
DUP 1,366 (3.3%, 0.2 quotas)
Communist 123 (0.3%, 0.02 quotas)

Electorate: 70,791
Votes cast: 41,374 (62.4%); spoilt votes 2,834 (6.4%)
Valid votes 41,374; quota 5,911

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

Three of the four Stormont MPs representing parts of the constituency were candidates in 1973; the fourth, John McQuade, was saving his energies for another contest though the man he beat in 1969, William Boyd, was also a candidate here. Laird was the last person ever elected to the old Stormont House of Commons. He and Devlin were easily elected in 1973, while Kennedy was soundly defeated.

Campbell of the SDLP was the runner-up, on 4400 some way behind Gillespie, also of the SDLP, who finished on 4961. The three SDLP candidates after Devlin had balanced quite well but the votes just weren't there for them, especially once NILP transfers put Alliance's Cooper safely ahead of them.


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.



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