For general information about political parties in Northern Ireland since 1922, the whole of Ireland 1801-1922, England, Scotland, and Wales, I urge you to get hold of Politico's Guide to the History of British Political Parties by David Boothroyd available from Politico's. I had some input into the Irish entries.
56 political parties are registered to contest elections in Northern Ireland. 18 seem certain or likely to contest the 2005 elections. (3 parties which have a recent electoral record are no longer on the register.) Another 8 are on the register with a genuine Northern Ireland presence but are unlikely to formally contest in 2005. The remaining 30 are parties on the Great Britain electoral register which have simply taken advantage of the fact that it costs nothing more to register for Northern Ireland.
Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)
Now the largest Unionist party, led since its foundation in 1970 by Rev Ian Paisley MLA MP MEP. The largest party opposed to the Agreement. Has always topped the poll at European elections, and gained most votes in 2003 Assembly election. Recent election results range from 14% to 28%. Web-site at http://www.dup.org.uk/.Sinn Féin (SF)
Since 2001 the larger Nationalist party, led since mid-1980s by Gerry Adams MLA MP. Often linked with IRA. Recent election results range from 16% to 24%. Web-site at http://sinnfein.ie/.Ulster Unionist Party (UUP)
Until 2003 the largest Unionist party, led since 2005 by Sir Reg Empey MLA. Recent election results range from 18% to 33%. Web-site at http://www.uup.org/.Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP)
Before 2001, the largest Nationalist party, led since November 2001 by Mark Durkan MLA, Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland. Recent election results range from 19% to 28%. Web-site at http://www.sdlp.ie/sdlp/.Alliance Party of Northern Ireland
Largest "cross-community" party in Northern Ireland. Led since October 2001 by David Ford MLA. Recent election results range from 2% to 8%. Web-site at http://www.allianceparty.org/.Progressive Unionist Party (PUP)
Smaller Unionist party founded in 1970s. Often linked with UVF and other Loyalist groups. Recent election results range from 0.6% to 3%. Web-site at http://www.pup-ni.org.uk/.United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP)
Smaller Unionist party led by Robert McCartney MLA since he founded it in 1995. Also opposed to the Agreement. Recent election results range from 0.5% to 5%. Web-site now at http://www.ukup.org/Northern Ireland Women's Coalition (NIWC)
Cross-community grouping founded in 1996. Only runs women candidates (as you would guess from the name). Recent election results range from 0.4% to 2%. Web-site at http://www.niwc.org/.Socialist Environmental Alliance
Coalition led by the Socialist Workers Party, which supported four unsuccessful candidates (three in Derry, one in Belfast) in the 2001 local elections, ran two unsuccessful candidate for the 2003 Assembly elections and one for the 2004 European election. Recent election results range from 0.35% to 1.6%. Web-site now at http://socialistenvironmentalalliance.org/Green Party
Environmental politics, linked closely with the Green Party/Comhaontas Glas in the Republic who have 2 MEPs and 6 TDs, and also less closely with the Green Parties in Scotland, England and Wales. Recent election results range from 0.1% to 0.9%. Web-site at http//www.greens-in.org. Formerly (long time ago) the Ecology Party.Workers Party
Had its roots in the old IRA but is now avowedly non-sectarian and socialist; formerly known as "Republican Clubs". Recent election results range from 0.2% to 0.5%. Web-site at http://www.workers-party.org/Conservative Party
NI branch of party led by Michael Howard MP. Local activists opposed the Agreement though the national party was in favour. Recent election results (in Northern Ireland) range from 0.2% to 1%. Northern Ireland branch website at http://www.conservativesni.com/; national party web-site at at http://www.conservatives.com/. The Ulster Unionist Party functioned in all respects as the Northern Ireland wing of the Conservatives until 1972.United Unionist Coalition
Founded September 1998 as the United Unionist Assembly Party, included the three members of the Assembly elected as Independent Unionists in 1998 on an anti-Agreement ticket. The party got 0.3% of the votes in Northern Ireland in the 2001 local government election, and 0.4% in the 2003 Assembly elections in which all three lost their seats. No web-site.Newtownabbey Ratepayers Association
have one councillor in Newtownabbey, got 0.1% in 2001 local elections.Socialist Party (Northern Ireland)
Formerly Militant, with a web-site at http://www.geocities.com/socialistparty/; linked to the Socialist Party which has one member of the Dáil. Got 0.05% in the 2003 Assembly election.Ulster Third Way
pro independence for Northern Ireland; stood in West Belfast in 2001 and 2003, and got very little. Website at http://www.ulsternation.org.uk/Vote for Yourself Rainbow Dream Ticket
stood as the Vote for Yourself Party in all four Belfast constituencies in the 2001 Westminster election. Came last in all four. Website at http://www.algroup.co.uk/wpb/rainbowparty.htmOfficial Anti-Trimble Unionist
standing one candidate in Castlereagh; appears to oppose any proposed water tax.
The following parties have stood in recent Northern Ireland elections but are no longer registered:
Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) (dissolved 2001)
Smaller Unionist party founded in early 1980s. Often linked with UDA and other Loyalist groups. Recent election results range from 1% to 2%. Announced that it was dissolving on 28 November 2001.Natural Law Party (no longer contesting elections)
Linked with the transcendental meditation movement. Recent election results range from 0.01% to 0.3%. Have announced that they will not contest elections in future.Community Candidates
fought the 2001 local government elections in Antrim, got 0.2% and nobody elected.
The following parties are also officially registered with the Electoral Commission but seem unlikely to run candidates in 2005:
Labour - Federation of Labour Groups
Unrelated to the parties led by Tony Blair MP or Ruari Quinn TD. Recent election results range from 0.3% to 1%. Web-site (I think these are the same people) at http://www.atholbooks.org/foyle/index.php?page=federation&.Labour Party of Northern Ireland
Not sure about their relationship with the above; led by one of the two Labour representatives elected to the Forum/Talks in 1996.Northern Ireland Unionist Party (NIUP)
Formed by defectors from the UKUP in 1999. The party got 0.2% across Northern Ireland in both legs of the 2001 election, and a similar vote share in the 2003 Assembly election (in which all members lost their seats). Website dead.
was set up as a potential flag of convenience for independent European candidate in 2004; in the end he stood as an independent candidateUlster Protestant League
registered leader is Newtownabbey councillor Tommy Kirkham, but he is standing as for re-election as an independent candidate.The Renaissance Independent Party of Europe
has a mailing address in County Down.Community Awareness Party/ Protecting Children
advocates an extension of "Megan's Law" to Northern Ireland.Workers Union of Ireland
presumably a fan club of legendary socialist Jim Larkin.
The following parties are also officially registered with the Electoral Commission for Northern Ireland elections, but as of April 2005 have no contact address or recent electoral record in Northern Ireland:
See also: The Boundary Commission's Provisional Recommendations | Boundary Commission 2003 | Jim Riley's analysis of votes and seats in the 1998 Assembly election | Gerrymandering | The constituencies | The political parties | The NI Executive | Useful books and links
Results from 1996 to 2001 for each seat: East Belfast | North Belfast | South Belfast | West Belfast | East Antrim | North Antrim | South Antrim | North Down | South Down | Fermanagh and South Tyrone | Foyle | Lagan Valley | East Londonderry | Mid Ulster | Newry and Armagh | Strangford | West Tyrone | Upper Bann
Surveys of each recent election: 2004 European | 2003 Assembly | 2001 Westminster | 2001 local govt | 2000 S Antrim | 1999 European | 1998 Assembly | 1997 local govt | 1997 Westminster | 1996 Forum | 1995 N Down | 1994 European | 1993 local govt | 1992 Westminster | 1989 European | 1989 local govt | 1987 Westminster | 1986 by-elections | 1985 local govt | 1984 European | 1983 Westminster | 1982 Assembly | 1981 local govt | 1979 European | 1979 Westminster | 1977 local govt | 1975 Convention | Oct 1974 Westminster | Feb 1974 Westminster | 1973 Assembly | 1973 local govt | Summary of all Northern Ireland elections since 1973 | Brief summary of election results 1997-2003
Historical pieces:Westminster elections 1885-1910 | The 1918 election | Dáil elections since 1918 | Westminster elections since 1920 | Senate of Southern Ireland 1921 | Irish Senate elections in 1925 | Northern Ireland House of Commons | Northern Ireland Senate
Other sites based at ARK: ORB (Online Research Bank) | CAIN (Conflict Archive on the INternet) | Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey
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Nicholas Whyte, 3 December 2000; last updated Sunday, July 03, 2005.
Disclaimer:© Nicholas Whyte 1998-2005 Last Updated on Sunday, July 03, 2005 12:45:04