East Antrim (UK Parliament constituency)

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For other constituencies of the same name, see East Antrim (disambiguation).
East Antrim
County constituency
for the House of Commons
Outline map
Boundary of East Antrim in Northern Ireland.
Districts of Northern Ireland Larne, Carrickfergus, Newtownabbey, Moyle
Electorate 61,745 (March 2011)
Current constituency
Created 1983
Member of Parliament Sammy Wilson (DUP)
Number of members One
Created from North Antrim and South Antrim
18851922
Number of members One
Type of constituency County constituency
Replaced by Antrim, Carrickfergus
Created from Antrim
Overlaps
European Parliament constituency Northern Ireland

East Antrim is a parliamentary constituency in the House of Commons and also an Assembly constituency in the Northern Ireland Assembly. It has voted for Unionist candidates since its re-creation in 1983.

Boundaries[edit]

Carrickfergus Castle

The original county constituency comprised the eastern part of County Antrim, being carved out of the former Antrim constituency. From 1885, East Antrim consisted of the baronies of Belfast Lower and Glenarm Upper, and parts of the baronies of Antrim Upper, Antrim Lower and Belfast Upper, and the town of Carrickfergus.

It returned one Member of Parliament 1885–1922.

The current seat was created in boundary changes in 1983, as part of an expansion of Northern Ireland's constituencies from 12 to 17, and was predominantly made up from parts of North Antrim and South Antrim. Since further revisions in 1995 (when it lost part of the district of Newtownabbey to the North Belfast constituency) it now covers the entirety of the districts of Larne and Carrickfergus, as well as part of Newtownabbey and Moyle.

Prior to the 2010 general election the Boundary Commission originally proposed two significant changes for East Antrim. In the south of the constituency it was proposed to transfer a further part of Newtownabbey to the North Belfast constituency whilst in the north the seat would have gained the Glens and Ballycastle in Moyle district from North Antrim. East Antrim would have been renamed 'Antrim Coast & Glens'. However this latter part of the proposal raised many questions, with some already arguing that the Glens have no natural ties to Jordanstown (and in 1995 the previous Boundary Commission cited this very reason when rejecting such a proposal).

Following consultation and revising the recommondations, the new boundaries for East Antrim were confirmed and passed through Parliament by the Northern Ireland Parliamentary Constituencies Order[1] as follows:

  • The whole district of Carrickfergus
  • The whole district of Larne
  • Glenaan, Glenariff, and Glendun from the Moyle district
  • From Newtownabbey, the wards of Jordanstown, Monkstown, and Rostulla

History[edit]

1885 until 1922[edit]

The constituency was a strongly conservative then unionist area. There was not the slightest chance of a republican or nationalist candidate being elected.

From 1886 to 1974 the Conservative and Unionist members of the United Kingdom House of Commons formed a single Parliamentary party.

From 1905 there was an Ulster Unionist organisation, but MPs sponsored by it are classified as Irish Unionists until the Northern Ireland general election, 1921 made the partition of Ireland effective so that Irish Unionism ceased to be a realistic objective.

A victory for the Unionist candidate in 1918 by 15,206 votes to Sinn Féin's 861 votes demonstrated the virtual unanimity of the unionist support.

Consequently Sinn Féin did not contest the 1919 by-election in the constituency.

In 1922, the constituency was incorporated into the Antrim constituency, which from 1950 until 1983 was divided into the North Antrim and South Antrim constituencies.

The First Dáil[edit]

Sinn Féin contested the general election of 1918 on the platform that instead of taking up any seats they won in the United Kingdom Parliament, they would establish a revolutionary assembly in Dublin. In republican theory every MP elected in Ireland was a potential Deputy to this assembly. In practice only the Sinn Féin members accepted the offer.

The revolutionary First Dáil assembled on 21 January 1919 and last met on 10 May 1921. The First Dáil, according to a resolution passed on 10 May 1921, was formally dissolved on the assembling of the Second Dáil. This took place on 16 August 1921.

In 1921 Sinn Féin decided to use the UK authorised elections for the Northern Ireland House of Commons and the House of Commons of Southern Ireland as a poll for the Irish Republic's Second Dáil. This area, in republican theory, was incorporated in a seven-member Dáil constituency of Antrim.

Constituency since 1983[edit]

The constituency is overwhelmingly unionist, with the combined votes for nationalist parties rarely exceeding 10%. However there have been above average votes for parties outside the traditional unionist block, such as the Alliance and the Conservatives. In the local government elections for the equivalent area many votes often go to independent candidates or groups such as the Newtownabbey Ratepayers Association. While the SDLP sprung a surprise in 1998 by overtaking a DUP candidate to win the final seat due to Ulster Unionist transfers – the first time that any nationalist candidate has benefited in this way.

The main interest in Westminster Elections has been the contest between the Ulster Unionist Party and the Democratic Unionist Party. In 1983 the UUP were only 367 votes ahead of the DUP. As part of a pact to oppose the Anglo-Irish Agreement the DUP did not contest the seat until 1992 but they still failed to come close, though in the 1996 elections to the Northern Ireland Forum they were only slightly behind the UUP. But in the 2001 general election they achieved an astonishing result when they came with 128 votes of winning the Westminster seat, despite not having targeted it. In the 2003 Assembly election they followed this up by gaining two additional MLAs and outpolling the UUP for the first time.

The DUP remained eager to take the Westminster seat and in the 2005 general election they did so.

Members of Parliament[edit]

The Member of Parliament since the 2005 general election is Sammy Wilson of the Democratic Unionist Party. In that election he defeated Roy Beggs of the Ulster Unionist Party, who had sat for the seat since it was created at the 1983 general election.

Election Member[2] Party
1885 James Martin McCalmont Irish Unionist
1913 Robert Chaine Alexander McCalmont Irish Unionist
1919 George Boyle Hanna Independent Unionist
1922 constituency abolished
1983 constituency recreated
1983 Roy Beggs Ulster Unionist
2005 Sammy Wilson Democratic Unionist

Election results[edit]

Elections in the 2010s[edit]

General Election 2015: East Antrim
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Alliance Stewart Dickson
General Election 2010: East Antrim
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
DUP Sammy Wilson 13,993 45.9 −1.0
UCU-NF Rodney McCune 7,223 23.7 −1.4
Alliance Gerry Lynch 3,377 11.1 −3.6
Sinn Féin Oliver McMullan 2,064 6.8 +1.4
SDLP Justin McCamphill 2,019 6.6 −0.8
TUV Sammy Morrison 1,826 6.0 N/A
Majority 6,770 22.2
Turnout 30,502 50.7
DUP hold Swing 0.2

Elections in the 2000s[edit]

General Election 2005: East Antrim
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
DUP Sammy Wilson 15,766 49.6 +13.6
UUP Roy Beggs 8,462 26.6 −9.8
Alliance Séan Neeson 4,869 15.3 +2.8
SDLP Danny O'Connor 1,695 5.3 −2.0
Sinn Féin James McKeown 828 2.6 +0.1
Rainbow Dream Ticket David Kerr 147 0.5 +0.5
Majority 7,304 23.0
Turnout 31,767 54.5
DUP gain from UUP Swing 11.7
General Election 2001: East Antrim
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Roy Beggs 13,101 36.4 −2.4
DUP Sammy Wilson 12,973 36.0 +16.6
Alliance John Mathews 4,483 12.5 −7.7
SDLP Danny O'Connor 2,641 7.3 +2.7
Independent Lindsay Mason 1,092 3.0 −0.3
Sinn Féin Janette Graffan 903 2.5 +0.9
Conservative Alan Greer 807 2.2 −4.6
Majority 128 0.4
Turnout 36,000 59.1 +0.9
UUP hold Swing

Elections in the 1990s[edit]

General Election 1997: East Antrim
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Roy Beggs 13,318 38.8
Alliance Sean Neeson 6,929 20.2
DUP Jack McKee 6,682 19.5
Conservative Terence Dick 2,334 6.8
PUP Billy Donaldson 1,757 5.1
SDLP Danny O'Connor 1,576 4.6
Independent Lindsay Mason 1,145 3.3
Sinn Féin Chrissie McAuley 543 1.6
Natural Law Maura McCann 69 0.2
Majority 6,389 18.6
Turnout 58.3
UUP hold Swing
General Election 1992: East Antrim
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Roy Beggs 16,966 43.2
DUP Nigel Dodds 9,544 24.3
Alliance Sean Neeson 9,132 23.3
Conservative Myrtle Boal 3,359 8.6
Natural Law Andrea Palmer 250 0.6
Majority 7,422 18.9
Turnout 62.4
UUP hold Swing

Elections in the 1980s[edit]

General Election 1987: East Antrim
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Roy Beggs 23,942 71.6
Alliance Sean Neeson 8,582 25.6
Workers' Party Austin Kelly 936 2.8
Majority 15,360 46.0
Turnout 55.2
UUP hold Swing
East Antrim by-election, 1986
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Roy Beggs 30,386 84.9
Alliance Sean Neeson 5,405 15.1
Majority 24,981
Turnout 59.2
UUP hold Swing N/A
General Election 1983: East Antrim
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Roy Beggs 14,293 37.4 N/A
DUP Jim Allister 13,926 36.5 N/A
Alliance Sean Neeson 7,620 20.0 N/A
SDLP Michael O'Cleary 1,047 2.7 N/A
Independent William Cunning 741 1.9 N/A
Workers' Party Austin Kelly 581 1.5 N/A
Majority 367 0.9 N/A
Turnout 38,154 65.1 N/A
UUP win (new seat)

Elections in the 1910s[edit]

East Antrim by-election, 1919
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Independent Unionist George Boyle Hanna 8,714 48.30 +48.30
Irish Unionist William Agnew Moore 7,549 41.84 -52.80
Independent Charles McFerran Legg 1,778 9.86 +9.86
Majority 1,165 6.46 N/A
Turnout 24,798 72.75 N/A
Independent Unionist gain from Irish Unionist Swing N/A
General Election 1918: East Antrim
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish Unionist Robert McCalmont 15,206 94.6 N/A
Sinn Féin Daniel Dumigan 861 5.4 N/A
Majority 14,345 89.3 N/A
Turnout 16,067 64.8 N/A
Irish Unionist hold Swing N/A
East Antrim by-election, 1913: East Antrim
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish Unionist Robert McCalmont Unopposed N/A N/A
Irish Unionist hold Swing N/A
General Election Dec 1910: East Antrim
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish Unionist James McCalmont Unopposed N/A N/A
Irish Unionist hold Swing N/A

Elections in the 1900s[edit]

General Election 1906: East Antrim
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish Unionist James McCalmont 4,496 67.70 +10.25
Russellite Unionist Henry Rosere Beddoes 2,145 32.30 +32.30
Majority 2,351 35.40 +20.50
Turnout 8,606 77.17 +7.00
Irish Unionist hold Swing N/A
General Election 1900: East Antrim
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish Unionist James McCalmont 3,582 57.45 N/A
Independent Unionist James King-Kerr 2,653 42.55 N/A
Majority 929 14.90 N/A
Turnout 8,886 70.17 N/A
Irish Unionist hold Swing N/A

Elections in the 1890s[edit]

General Election 1895: East Antrim
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish Unionist James McCalmont Unopposed N/A N/A
Irish Unionist hold Swing N/A
General Election 1892: East Antrim
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish Unionist James McCalmont Unopposed N/A N/A
Irish Unionist hold Swing N/A

Elections in the 1880s[edit]

General Election 1886: East Antrim
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish Unionist James McCalmont Unopposed N/A N/A
Irish Unionist hold Swing N/A
General Election 4 December 1885: East Antrim
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative James McCalmont 4,180 66.51 N/A
Liberal Marriott Robert Dalway 2,105 33.49 N/A
Majority 2,075 33.02 N/A
Turnout 8,773 71.64 N/A
Conservative gain from new seat Swing N/A

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Parliamentary Election Results in Ireland, 1801–1922, edited by B.M. Walker (Royal Irish Academy 1978)
  • Who's Who of British members of parliament: Volume II 1886–1918, edited by M. Stenton and S. Lees (The Harvester Press 1978)