Belfast North (UK Parliament constituency)

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For other constituencies of the same name, see Belfast North (disambiguation).

Coordinates: 54°39′47″N 5°57′54″W / 54.663°N 5.965°W / 54.663; -5.965

Belfast North
Borough constituency
for the House of Commons
Outline map
Boundary of Belfast North in Northern Ireland.
Districts of Northern Ireland Belfast, Newtownabbey
Electorate 67,422 (March 2011)
Current constituency
Created 1922
Member of Parliament Nigel Dodds (DUP)
Number of members One
18851918
Number of members One
Type of constituency Borough constituency
Replaced by Belfast Duncairn, Belfast Shankill
Created from Belfast
Overlaps
European Parliament constituency Northern Ireland

Belfast North is a parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom House of Commons.

Boundaries[edit]

1950-1974: The county borough of Belfast wards of Clifton, Duncairn, and Shankill.

1974-1983: The county borough of Belfast wards of Clifton, Dock, Duncairn, and Shankill.

1983-1997: The District of Belfast wards of Ardoyne, Ballysillan, Bellevue, Castleview, Cavehill, Cliftonville, Crumlin, Duncairn, Fortwilliam, Grove, Legoniel, New Lodge, Shankill, and Woodvale.

1997-2010: The District of Belfast wards of Ardoyne, Ballysillan, Bellevue, Castleview, Cavehill, Chichester Park, Cliftonville, Crumlin, Duncairn, Fortwilliam, Legoniel, New Lodge, Water Works, and Woodvale; and the District of Newtownabbey wards of Abbey, Coole, Dunanney, Valley, and Whitehouse.

2010-present: The District of Belfast wards of Ardoyne, Ballysillan, Bellevue, Castleview, Cavehill, Chichester Park, Cliftonville, Crumlin, Duncairn, Fortwilliam, Legoniel, New Lodge, Water Works, and Woodvale; and the District of Newtownabbey wards of Abbey, Ballyhenry, Cloughfern, Collinbridge, Coole, Dunanney, Glebe, Glengormley, Hightown, Valley, and Whitehouse.

The seat was created in 1922 when, as part of the establishment of the devolved Stormont Parliament for Northern Ireland, the number of MPs in the Westminster Parliament was drastically cut. The seat is centred on the north section of Belfast, though at times the area around the Docks on the north side of the Lagan Estuary has instead been part of variously Belfast East and Belfast West. Belfast North also contains part of the district of Newtownabbey.

Belfast North contains 14 wards of Belfast City Council and 5 of Newtownabbey Borough Council. The constituency suffered the highest level of violence in Northern Ireland during The Troubles and covers many areas synonymous with the conflict – the New Lodge, Ardoyne, Rathcoole, Ballysillan and Woodvale. The overall tenor of the constituency is working-class, with a high proportion of residents in public housing, and concentrations of low-income single people in the middle Antrim Road and Cliftonville areas. There are some upscale residential areas around Belfast Castle and on the slopes of Cavehill. Sectarian divisions are stark, with a number of Peace lines cutting through the constituency and occasional outbursts of sectarian street violence, and was the focus for post-ceasefire incidents such as the Holy Cross dispute.

At the boundary commission hearings in September 2005 prior to the 2010 general election, the SDLP proposed extending the seat to Cloughfern and Jordanstown. The DUP supported the addition of Cloughfern. Sinn Féin were generally supportive of the commission's proposals.

Following the revised recommondations, the Commission proposals were finalised and accepted by Parliament through the Northern Ireland Parliamentary Constituencies Order.[1]

History[edit]

Belfast North has historically had a narrow unionist majority, which has been gradually decreasing over time. The nationalist vote is considerable, and those from a Catholic background (47%) now outnumber those from a Protestant background (46%), according to the 2011 census. It has generated particular interest for a number of highly unusual elections results, as well as for several candidates and MPs prominently disagreeing with their parties.

Of the five main political parties in Northern Ireland, four (the Ulster Unionist Party, the Democratic Unionist Party, the Social Democratic and Labour Party and Sinn Féin) all have relatively strong support bases and routinely poll similar results. Other parties such as the Alliance, Progressive Unionist Party, Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, Conservatives and the Workers' Party have at times polled significantly, as have independent candidates, with the result that many elections have been won on comparatively low shares of the vote. The elections to the various assemblies have often seen the seats for the constituency heavily split – in 1998 no party won more than one Assembly seat.

The area saw a steady out movement of Protestants during the Troubles, to some degree replaced by a growing Catholic population, although the overall population of the area fell sharply. However, all the inner-city communities in the constituency are now haemorrhaging electors, and the overall ethnic composition of the constituency now seems stable.

The seat was consistently held by the Ulster Unionist Party from its creation until the 1970s. In 1972 the first notable dissent occurred when the sitting MP, Stratton Mills, dissented from the UUP's decision to withdraw from the Conservative whip at Westminster over the suspension of the Stormont Parliament. Mills remained as a Conservative MP, but the following year Mills joined the Alliance, giving them their only Westminster representation before 2010.

In the February 1974 general election the seat was won by John Carson of the Ulster Unionist Party with backing by the Vanguard Progressive Unionist Party and the Democratic Unionist Party on a united slate in opposition to the Sunningdale Agreement. Carson's victory came despite a majority of votes being cast for pro-Sunningdale candidates, albeit split between the Pro-Assembly Unionists, the Social Democratic and Labour Party and the Northern Ireland Labour Party. Carson held his seat in the October 1974 election but was deselected by the local Ulster Unionists over his support for the minority Labour government.

The 1979 general election saw one of the most dramatic results of all when Johnny McQuade of the Democratic Unionist Party won the seat with a mere 27.6% of the vote – the third lowest total for a successful candidate in a UK general election in the twentieth century. This came about due to the strong showing of several other parties, dividing the vote strongly. McQuade also had the distinction of being the oldest person to be initially elected to Westminster in the 20th century and did not restand at the next general election.

In 1983, Cecil Walker regained the seat for the UUP, beating Scotsman George Seawright of the DUP. In the 1987 general election the UUP and DUP agreed a pact in opposition to the Anglo Irish Agreement. Seawright had been expelled from the DUP and stood in the election, reviving the Protestant Unionist Party label, but was unsuccessful.

Walker continued to hold the seat until 2001 but gained a reputation for inactivity. In the 2001 general election the DUP contested the seat for the first time since 1983, with their candidate Nigel Dodds campaigning heavily on both their opposition to the Good Friday Agreement and Walker's record. Walker also suffered from a disastrous television interview during the campaign. In the election Walker's vote collapsed to a mere 12%, coming fourth whilst Dodds won the seat. The UUP vote fell even further in both the 2003 Assembly election and the 2005 general election and it seems extremely doubtful that they will retake the seat at the next general election. Much of the attention now focuses on the growth of the Sinn Féin vote,as there was an 5% swing in their favour in the 2010 general election, now making this an intensely marginal contest between them and the DUP.

Members of Parliament[edit]

The Member of Parliament since the 2001 general election is Nigel Dodds of the Democratic Unionist Party. He defeated Cecil Walker of the Ulster Unionist Party who had sat for the seat since 1983.

Election Member Party
1885 Sir William Ewart Conservative
1889 by-election Edward James Harland Conservative
1896 by-election James Horner Haslett Conservative
1905 by-election Sir Daniel Dixon Ulster Unionist
1907 by-election George Smith Clark Ulster Unionist
1910 Robert Thompson Ulster Unionist
1918 constituency abolished
1922 constituency recreated
1922 T.E. McConnell Ulster Unionist
1929 Thomas Somerset Ulster Unionist
1945 William Frederick Neill Ulster Unionist
1950 H. Montgomery Hyde Ulster Unionist
1959 Stratton Mills Ulster Unionist
1972 Conservative
1973 Alliance
Feb 1974 John Carson Ulster Unionist
1979 John McQuade Democratic Unionist
1983 Cecil Walker Ulster Unionist
2001 Nigel Dodds Democratic Unionist

Monuments at Belfast City Hall – MP's Belfast North


Elections[edit]

Elections in the 2010s[edit]

General Election 2010: Belfast North[2]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
DUP Nigel Dodds 14,812 40.0 -2.9
Sinn Féin Gerry Kelly 12,588 34.0 +7.1
SDLP Alban Maginness 4,544 12.3 -4.5
UCU-NF Fred Cobain 2,837 7.7 -1.8
Alliance Billy Webb 1,809 4.9 +2.0
Independent Martin McAuley 403 1.1 +1.1
Majority 2,224 6.0
Turnout 36,993 56.5 -1.1
DUP hold Swing 5.0

Elections in the 2000s[edit]

General Election 2005: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
DUP Nigel Dodds 13,935 45.6 +4.8
Sinn Féin Gerry Kelly 8,747 28.6 +3.4
SDLP Alban Maginness 4,950 16.2 -4.8
UUP Fred Cobain 2,154 7.1 -4.9
Alliance Marjorie Hawkins 438 1.4 +1.4
Workers' Party Marcella Delaney 165 0.5 -0.1
Rainbow Dream Ticket Lynda Gilby 151 0.5 +0.2
Majority 5,188 17.0
Turnout 30,540 57.8 -9.4
DUP hold Swing +0.7
General Election 2001: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
DUP Nigel Dodds 16,718 40.8 0.0
Sinn Féin Gerry Kelly 10,331 25.2 +5.0
SDLP Alban Maginness 8,592 21.0 +0.6
UUP Cecil Walker 4,904 12.0 -39.8
Workers' Party Marcella Delaney 253 0.6 -0.1
Rainbow Dream Ticket Rainbow George Weiss 134 0.3 N/A
Majority 6,387 15.6
Turnout 40,932 67.2 +3.0
DUP gain from UUP Swing

Elections in the 1990s[edit]

General Election 1997: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Cecil Walker 21,478 51.8 -.04
SDLP Alban Maginness 8,454 20.4 +1.9
Sinn Féin Gerry Kelly 8,375 20.2 +8.7
Alliance Tom Campbell 2,221 5.4 -2.4
Green (NI) Peter Emerson 539 1.3 N/A
Workers' Party Paul Treanor 297 0.7 N/A
Natural Law Andrea Gribben 98 0.2 N/A
Majority 13,024 31.4
Turnout 64.2
UUP hold Swing

1997 Changes are compared to the 1992 notional results shown below.[3]

Notional 1992 UK General Election Result : Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP N/A 22,259 52.4 N/a
SDLP N/A 7,867 18.52 N/A
Sinn Féin N/A 4,882 11.5 N/A
Alliance N/A 3,321 7.8 N/A
Conservative N/A 2,107 5.0 N/A
Others N/A 2,041 4.8 N/A
Majority 14,392 33.9 N/A
UUP hold Swing
General Election 1992: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Cecil Walker 17,240 48.0
SDLP Alban Maginness 7,615 21.2
Sinn Féin Paddy McManus 4,693 13.1
Alliance Tom Campbell 2,246 6.3
Conservative Margaret Redpath 2,107 5.9
New Agenda Seamus Lynch 1,386 3.9
Workers' Party Margaret Smith 419 1.2
Natural Law David O'Leary 208 0.6
Majority 9,625
Turnout 65.2
UUP hold Swing

Elections in the 1980s[edit]

General Election 1987: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Cecil Walker 14,355 39.0
SDLP Alban Maginness 5,795 15.7
Protestant Unionist George Seawright 5,671 15.4
Sinn Féin Paddy McManus 5,062 13.8
Workers' Party Seamus Lynch 3,062 8.3
Alliance Tom Campbell 2,871 7.8
Majority 8,560 23.3
Turnout 62.3
UUP hold Swing
Belfast North by-election, 1986
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Cecil Walker 21,649
Alliance Paul Maguire 5,072
Workers' Party Seamus Lynch 3,563
Majority 16,577
Turnout
UUP hold Swing
General Election 1983: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Cecil Walker 15,339 36.2
DUP George Seawright 8,260 19.5
SDLP Brian Feeney 5,944 14.0
Sinn Féin Joe Austin 5,451 12.9
Alliance Paul Maguire 3,879 9.1
Workers' Party Seamus Lynch 2,412 5.7
Independent DUP William Gault 1,134 2.7
Majority 7,079 16.7
Turnout 69.4
UUP gain from DUP Swing

Elections in the 1970s[edit]

General Election 1979: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
DUP Johnny McQuade 11,690 27.6
UUP Cecil Walker 10,695 25.3
SDLP Paschal O'Hare 7,823 18.5
Unionist Party NI Anne Dickson 4,220 10.0
Alliance John Cushnahan 4,120 9.7
Republican Clubs Seamus Lynch 1,907 4.5
Labour (NI) Alan Carr 1,889 4.4
Majority 995 2.4
Turnout 42,344 65.1
DUP gain from UUP Swing
General Election October 1974: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP John Carson 29,662 62.6
SDLP Thomas Donnelly 11,400 24.1
Alliance John Ferguson 3,807 8.1
Labour (NI) Billy Boyd 2,481 5.2
Majority 18,222 38.5
Turnout 47,670 65.9
UUP hold Swing
General Election February 1974: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP John Carson 21,531 43.7
Pro-Assembly Unionist David Smyth 12,755 25.9
SDLP Thomas Donnelly 12,003 24.4
Labour (NI) Sandy Scott 2,917 5.9
Majority 8,776 17.8
Turnout 68.2
UUP hold Swing
General Election 1970: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Stratton Mills 28,668 48.5
Labour (NI) John Sharkey 18,894 31.9
Protestant Unionist William Beattie 11,173 18.8
Independent Unionist John McKeague 441 0.8
Majority 9,774 16.5
Turnout 59,176 78.0
UUP hold Swing

Elections in the 1960s[edit]

General Election 1966: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Stratton Mills 26,891 57.4
Labour (NI) David Overend 19,927 42.6
Majority 6,964 14.9
Turnout 46,818 65.5
UUP hold Swing
General Election 1964: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Stratton Mills 29,976 59.6
Labour (NI) John McDowell 17,564 34.9
Independent Republican Francis McGlade 2,743 5.5
Majority 12,412 24.7
Turnout 50,283 69.5
UUP hold Swing

Elections in the 1950s[edit]

General Election 1959: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Stratton Mills 32,173 60.7
Labour (NI) John McDowell 18,640 35.2
Sinn Féin Francis McGlade 2,156 4.1
Majority 13,533 25.6
Turnout 52,969 71.1
UUP hold Swing
General Election 1955: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Harford Montgomery Hyde 33,745 63.3
Labour (NI) Billy Boyd 15,065 28.2
Sinn Féin Francis McGlade 4,534 8.5
Majority 18,680
Turnout 69.3
UUP hold Swing
General Election 1951: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Harford Montgomery Hyde 34,995 60.7
Labour (NI) James Morrow 22,685 39.3
Majority 12,310 21.3
Turnout 57,680 75.7
UUP hold Swing
General Election 1950: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Harford Montgomery Hyde 36,412 64.4
Labour (NI) William Leeburn 20,146 35.6
Majority 16,266 28.8
Turnout 56,558 74.9
UUP hold Swing

Elections in the 1940s[edit]

General Election 1945: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP William Frederick Neill 25,761 55.3
Labour (NI) William Leeburn 20,845 44.7
Majority 4,916 10.6
Turnout 46,606 63.6
UUP hold Swing

Elections in the 1930s[edit]

General Election 1935: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Thomas Somerset Unopposed N/A N/A
UUP hold Swing N/A
General Election 1931: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Thomas Somerset Unopposed N/A N/A
UUP hold Swing N/A

Elections in the 1920s[edit]

General Election 1929: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Thomas Somerset 27,812 62.1
Independent Unionist Tommy Henderson 10,909 24.4
Independent David Wilson 6,059 13.5
Majority 16,903 37.8
Turnout 44,780 72.9
UUP hold Swing
General Election 1924: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Thomas McConnell 34,182 96.6
Sinn Féin Hugh Corvin 1,192 3.4
Majority 32,990 93.3
Turnout 35,374 75.4
UUP hold Swing
General Election 1923: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Thomas McConnell 16,771 52.5
Independent Unionist Tommy Henderson 15,171 47.5
Majority 1,600 5.0
Turnout 31,942 68.2
UUP hold Swing
General Election 1922: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Thomas McConnell Unopposed N/A N/A
UUP hold Swing N/A

Elections in the 1910s[edit]

General Election December 1910: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Robert Thompson Unopposed N/A N/A
UUP hold Swing N/A
General Election January 1910: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Robert Thompson 6,270 61.3
Labour Robert Gageby 3,951 38.7
Majority 2,319 22.7
Turnout 10,221
UUP hold Swing

Elections in the 1900s[edit]

Belfast North by-election, 1907
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish Unionist George Smith Clark 6,021
Labour William Walker 4,194
Majority 1,827
Turnout
Irish Unionist hold Swing
General Election 1906: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish Unionist Daniel Dixon 4,907
Labour William Walker 4,616
Majority 291
Turnout
Irish Unionist hold Swing
Belfast North by-election, 1905
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish Unionist Daniel Dixon 4,440
Labour William Walker 3,966 N/A
Majority 474
Turnout
Irish Unionist hold Swing
General Election 1900: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish Unionist James Horner Haslett 4,172
Ind. Liberal Unionist T. Harrison 1,855
Majority
Turnout
Irish Unionist hold Swing

Elections in the 1890s[edit]

Belfast North by-election, 1896
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish Unionist James Horner Haslett 5,935
Independent Unionist Adam Turner 3,434
Majority
Turnout
Irish Unionist hold Swing
General Election 1895: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Edward James Harland Unopposed N/A N/A
Conservative hold Swing N/A
General Election 1892: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Edward James Harland Unopposed N/A N/A
Conservative hold Swing N/A

Elections in the 1880s[edit]

Belfast North by-election, 1889: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Edward James Harland Unopposed N/A N/A
Conservative hold Swing N/A
General Election 1886: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP William Ewart 4,522 86.1
Irish Nationalist J. Dempsey 732 13.9
Majority 3,790 72.1
Turnout 5,254
Irish Unionist hold Swing
General Election 1885: Belfast North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP William Ewart 3,915
Liberal Alexander Bowman 1,330
Majority
Turnout
Irish Unionist hold Swing

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]