North Down (UK Parliament constituency)

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For other constituencies of the same name, see North Down (disambiguation).
North Down
County constituency
NorthDownConstituency.svg
North Down shown within Northern Ireland
Created: 1885, 1950
MP: Sylvia Hermon
Party: Independent
Type: House of Commons
Districts: North Down, Ards
EP constituency: Northern Ireland
North Down
Former County constituency
for the House of Commons
18851922
Replaced by Down
Created from Down

North Down is a parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom House of Commons. The current MP is Sylvia Hermon (Lady Hermon), elected as an Independent in the 2010 general election. (Hermon had previously represented the constituency on behalf of the Ulster Unionist Party.)

Boundaries[edit]

1950-1974: The boroughs of Bangor and Newtownards; the urban districts of Donaghadee and Holywood; and the rural districts of Castlereagh, Hillsborough, and Newtownards.

1974-1983: The boroughs of Bangor and Newtownards; the urban districts of Donaghadee and Holywood; the rural district of North Down; the district electoral divisions of Ballycultra, Holywood Rural, and Craigavad in the rural district of Castlereagh; and the district electoral divisions of Annahilt, Ballykeel, Ballymacbrennan, Ballyskeagh, Ballyworfy, Blaris, Carryduff, Dromara, Drumbo, Glassdrumman, Hillsborough, Maze, Ouley, and Saintfield in the rural district of Hillsborough.

1983-1997: The District of North Down; and the District of Castlereagh wards of Ballyhanwood, Carrowreagh, Dundonald, Enler, Gilnahirk, and Tullycarnet.

1997-present: The District of North Down; and the District of Ards wards of Donaghadee North, Donaghadee South, and Millisle.

The county constituency was first created in 1885 from the northern part of Down. From the dissolution of Parliament in 1922, it was merged back into that constituency.

The seat was re-created in 1950 when the old two MP Down constituency was abolished as part of the move to single member seats. Originally the seat consisted of most of the northern parts of County Down, with the south included in South Down. In January 1980, the Boundary Commission's original proposals suggested significantly reducing the size of the constituency and renaming it 'Loughside' on the grounds that this would avoid confusion in the event of borough council elections being held on the same day. As a result, in 1983 the seat was radically cut down as part of an expansion of Northern Ireland's constituencies from 12 to 17, although the name remained unaltered. Significant parts of the constituency were transferred to the new Strangford constituency. In boundary changes proposed by a review in 1995, the seat exchanged territory with Strangford, losing the Dundonald area from Castlereagh and gaining a part of Ards.

The seat now contains the entirety of North Down district as well as Donaghadee and Millisle in Ards.

In 2005, the Boundary Commission published provisional recommendations for modifying the boundaries of constituencies in Northern Ireland. No changes were proposed for North Down. This proved acceptable at the public enquiries and the Assistant Commissioner also recommended no change to the constituency meaning that the constituency is to remain unchanged.

History[edit]

1885 to 1922[edit]

The constituency was a strongly unionist area being held by the Irish Unionist Party. Neither the Nationalist Party or Sinn Féin contested the seat in 1918.

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. The constituency was incorporated into the eight-member constituency of Down, and saw President of Dáil Éireann, Éamon de Valera, elected there. The constituency also elected the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, James Craig, to the Parliament of Northern Ireland.

1950 to present[edit]

North Down is one of the most overwhelmingly unionist parts of Northern Ireland, with nationalist parties routinely getting no more than 6% of the vote, if that. In the 1955 election George Currie, the Ulster Unionist, candidate gained 96.8% of the popular vote, which he "bettered" in 1959 with some 98%. These shares of the popular votes are the highest ever achieved in a United Kingdom general election (post 1832 Reform). However it has arguably the most volatile and unpredictable politics of the entire province. Whereas elsewhere there are effectively three fundamental battles fought in elections – between the Ulster Unionist Party and the Democratic Unionist Party to be the leading unionist party, between the Social Democratic and Labour Party and Sinn Féin to be the leading nationalist party, and between unionism and nationalism as a whole, North Down is different. The lack of any substantial nationalist vote renders the last two battles immaterial. Of Northern Ireland's five main parties, only the Ulster Unionist Party and the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland have historically had a significant organisation and support in the constituency, though the Democratic Unionist Party has recently started to gain a foothold where it hitherto was near non-existent.

In addition the constituency has seen many substantial votes for smaller party groupings and individuals. The Ulster Popular Unionist Party, the Conservative Party, the UK Unionist Party and the Northern Ireland Women's Coalition have all polled substantially in the last fifteen years, whilst in local council elections many independent candidates gain sufficient votes to be elected. The area is the heartland of numerous "one-man parties", of which the Ulster Popular Unionist Party and the UK Unionist Party are the best known but far from the only ones. There have been many examples of elected individuals changing party allegiance and often successfully defending their seats for the new party.

The constituency is the most prosperous in Northern Ireland and is widely considered to be the most similar to an English constituency. In part because of this the seat was the heartland of the Equal Citizenship campaign in the late 1980s which argued that political parties in Britain should organise and contest elections in Northern Ireland, in the hope that this would "normalise" the politics of the province. The Conservative Party established itself (having in earlier years been in alliance with the Ulster Unionist Party until a breakdown in relations in the 1970s) and to date has been relatively strongest in North Down though in recent years its vote has declined heavily from the brief surge in the elections held between 1989 and 1992.

Traditionally levels of turnout in elections are very low by Northern Ireland standards, possibly because the lack of a serious threat of a nationalist victory removes the impetus to vote common among unionists elsewhere in the province. The one significant exception to the levels of turnout was the 1998 referendum on the Good Friday Agreement where turnout reached 80%, a total not come close to since 1921.

The parliamentary constituency was original held by the Ulster Unionist Party with no serious opposition. In 1970 James Kilfedder was first elected and he proceeded to accumulate a high level of personal popularity in the constituency. In 1977 he left the Ulster Unionists in protest over their increasing support for Enoch Powell's proposed policy of integration for Northern Ireland, rather than the restoration of devolved government. Standing as an independent Unionist, Kilfedder successfully defended his seat against a UUP challenge in the 1979 general election. The following year he formed the Ulster Popular Unionist Party, with a few local councillors being elected on the label.

Kilfedder continued to hold his seat. Then in the 1987 general election he agreed an electoral pact with the Ulster Unionists and the Democratic Unionist Party to form a united opposition to the Anglo-Irish Agreement. However the local UUP candidate, Robert McCartney, was opposed to this pact and refused to withdraw. He was expelled from the UUP and so stood as a "Real Unionist" on a platform of complete integration for the province. Kilfedder retained the seat but with a reduced majority. As part of his platform for integration, McCartney had called for the major UK parties to organise and stand in the province and his result gave impetus to this campaign.

The Conservative Party did very well in the 1989 local elections for North Down Borough Council when they became the largest party. They stood candidates in several Northern Ireland constituencies in the 1992 general election, but their strongest prospect was expected to be North Down. Kilfedder by this stage was taking the Conservative whip at Westminster and so was aggrieved by this (and subsequently given a knighthood). In the event the result was similar to 1987, with the Conservatives getting a similar vote to McCartney.

Kilfedder died in 1995 and his loose Ulster Popular Unionist Party faded away even before the resulting by-election. By this time the Northern Ireland Conservatives had collapsed heavily and so there was much speculation about how the by-election would go. The Ulster Unionist Party were hopeful that they could retake the seat, but McCartney also stood, this time as a "UK Unionist" with the support of the Democratic Unionist Party. No candidate stood for the Popular Unionists or any nationalist party. There was a poor turnout in which McCartney won, with the Conservative vote collapsing from 32% to 2.1%.

McCartney further established his UK Unionist Party and sought to challenge the existing unionist parties by offering a less sectarian alternative. He held his seat in the 1997 election and was also elected to both the Northern Ireland Peace Forum in 1996 and the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1998, though on each occasion he was the only UK Unionist elected from North Down. In the 1998 election the Ulster Unionists had their strongest result in the province and there was much speculation that they could unseat McCartney at the next general election.

A rather public row erupted over the selection of the UUP's candidate. Initially the local assembly member Peter Weir was selected, but his opposition to the Good Friday Agreement and David Trimble's leadership became very prominent and a running source of embarrassment to the party. Then Weir was deselected and the new candidate selected, Sylvia Hermon, was supportive of both Trimble and the Agreement. In the 2001 general election campaign the local branch of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland decided to withdraw their candidate when they felt that it would achieve their objectives better to support Hermon, who defeated McCartney overwhelmingly.

Weir remained as an Assembly member but subsequently defected to the Democratic Unionist Party. In the 2003 Assembly election Weir successfully defended his seat for the DUP, who also gained another MLA from the Northern Ireland Women's Coalition. In the 2005 general election the party battle was altered somewhat by the DUP running Weir, the Alliance putting up a candidate and McCartney, after some speculation, deciding not to stand but to instead endorse Weir. In a strong contest Hermon retained the seat, to become the only Ulster Unionist MP at the time, though she later left that party.

Members of Parliament[edit]

The Member of Parliament since the 2001 general election is Sylvia Hermon, initially of the Ulster Unionist Party; she defeated Robert McCartney of the UK Unionist Party who had represented the seat since a by-election in 1995. She was the only UUP MP elected in 2005. She became an independent in March 2010, objecting to the Ulster Conservatives and Unionists electoral alliance.

Election Member Party
1885 Thomas Waring Conservative
1886 Irish Unionist
1898 John Blakiston-Houston Irish Unionist
1900 Thomas Lorimer Corbett Irish Unionist
1910 William Mitchell-Thomson Irish Unionist
1918 Thomas Watters Brown Irish Unionist
Feb 1922 Henry Hughes Wilson Irish Unionist
Jul 1922 John Morrow Simms Irish Unionist
1922 constituency abolished
1950 constituency recreated
1950 Walter Smiles Ulster Unionist
1953 Patricia Ford Ulster Unionist
1955 George Currie Ulster Unionist
1970 James Kilfedder Ulster Unionist
1977 Independent Unionist
1980 Ulster Popular Unionist
1995 Robert McCartney UK Unionist
2001 Sylvia Hermon Ulster Unionist
2010 Independent

Elections[edit]

Elections in the 2010s[edit]

General Election 2015: North Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Independent Sylvia Hermon
Alliance Andrew Muir
General Election 2010: North Down[1]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Independent Sylvia Hermon 21,181 63.3 N/A
UCU-NF Ian Parsley 6,817 20.4 -30
Alliance Stephen Farry 1,876 5.6 -2.0
TUV Kaye Kilpatrick 1,634 4.9 N/A
Green (NI) Steven Agnew 1,043 3.1 N/A
SDLP Liam Logan 680 2.0 -1.1
Sinn Féin Vincent Parker 250 0.7 +0.1
Majority 14,364 42.9
Turnout 33.481 55.2 -1.1
Independent gain from UUP Swing

Elections in the 2000s[edit]

General Election 2005: North Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Sylvia Hermon 16,268 50.4 -5.6
DUP Peter Weir 11,324 35.1 N/A
Alliance David Alderdice 2,451 7.6 N/A
SDLP Liam Logan 1,009 3.1 -0.3
Conservative Julian Robertson 822 2.5 +0.3
Independent Chris Carter 211 0.7 -0.5
Sinn Féin Janet McCrory 205 0.6 -0.2
Majority 4,944 15.3
Turnout 32,290 54.0 -4.8
UUP hold Swing
General Election 2001: North Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Sylvia Hermon 20,833 56.0 +24.9
UK Unionist Bob McCartney 13,509 36.3 +1.3
SDLP Marietta Farrell 1,275 3.4 -1.0
Conservative Julian Robertson 815 2.2 -2.8
Independent Chris Carter 444 1.2 N/A
Sinn Féin Eamonn McConvey 313 0.8 N/A
Majority 7,324 19.7
Turnout 37,189 58.8 +0.8
UUP gain from UK Unionist Swing

Elections in the 1990s[edit]

General Election 1997: North Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UK Unionist Bob McCartney 12,817 35.1 N/A
UUP Alan McFarland 11,368 31.1 N/A
Alliance Oliver Napier 7,554 20.7 + 6.0
Conservative Leonard Fee 1,810 5.0 – 27.0
SDLP Marietta Farrell 1,602 4.4 N/A
NI Women's Coalition Jane Morrice 1,240 3.4 N/A
Natural Law Tom Mullins 108 0.3 – 0.3
Independent Robert Mooney 57 0.2 N/A
Majority 1,449 4.0
Turnout 36,556 57.9
UK Unionist gain from Ulster Popular Unionist Swing

As is standard the figures and result are compared to the 1992 general election, not the 1995 by-election.

North Down by-election, 1995
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UK Unionist Bob McCartney 10,124 37.0 N/A
UUP Alan McFarland 7,232 26.4 N/A
Alliance Oliver Napier 6,970 25.4 +10.7
Independent Unionist Alan Chambers 2,170 7.9 N/A
Conservative Stuart Sexton 583 2.1 -29.9
Free Para Lee Clegg Now Michael Brooks 108 0.4 N/A
Independent Voice Christopher Carter 101 0.4 N/A
Natural Law James Anderson 100 0.4 -0.2
Majority 2,892
Turnout 38.6
UK Unionist gain from Ulster Popular Unionist Swing
General Election 1992: North Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Ulster Popular Unionist James Kilfedder 19,305 42.9 – 2.2
Conservative Laurence Kennedy 14,371 32.0 N/A
Alliance Addie Morrow 6,611 14.7 – 4.7
DUP Denny Vitty 4,414 9.8 N/A
Natural Law Andrew Wilmot 255 0.6 N/A
Majority 4,934
Turnout 65.5
Ulster Popular Unionist hold Swing

Elections in the 1980s[edit]

General Election 1987: North Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Ulster Popular Unionist James Kilfedder 18,420 45.1 –11.0
Real Unionist Bob McCartney 14,467 35.4 N/A
Alliance John Cushnahan 7,932 19.4 –2.6
Majority 3,953 9.7
Turnout 62.8
Ulster Popular Unionist hold Swing
By-election: North Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Ulster Popular Unionist James Kilfedder 30,793
Alliance John Cushnahan 8,066
Majority 22,727
Turnout 62.8
Ulster Popular Unionist hold Swing
General Election 1983: North Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Ulster Popular Unionist James Kilfedder 22,861 56.1 – 3.5
Alliance John Cushnahan 9,015 22.1 + 0.5
UUP Bob McCartney 8,261 20.3 + 1.4
SDLP Cathal O'Baioll 645 1.6 N/A
Majority 13,846 34.0
Turnout 66.2
Ulster Popular Unionist hold Swing

In 1980 Kilfedder formed the small Ulster Popular Unionist Party and contested all subsequent elections under this label.

Elections in the 1970s[edit]

General Election 1979: North Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Independent Unionist James Kilfedder 36,989 59.6 N/A
Alliance Keith Jones 13,364 21.6 + 3.1
UUP Clifford Smyth 11,728 18.9 – 53.1
Majority 23,625 38.1
Turnout 62.2
Independent Unionist gain from UUP Swing

Kilfedder left the Ulster Unionists in 1977, in opposition to Enoch Powell's proposals for integration instead of devolution for Northern Ireland, and defended his seat as an Independent Ulster Unionist. The new Ulster Unionist candidate was Clifford Smyth, who had previously been a Democratic Unionist Party assembly member in North Antrim.

General Election October 1974: North Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP James Kilfedder 40,996 72.0 + 11.9
Alliance Keith Jones 9,973 17.5 N/A
Unionist Party NI William Brownlow 6,037 10.6 N/A
Majority 31,023 54.4
Turnout 60.9
UUP hold Swing
General Election February 1974: North Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP James Kilfedder 38,169 61.1 –7.9
Pro-Assembly Unionist Roy Bradford 21,943 35.1 N/A
SDLP Dermot Curran 2,376 3.8 N/A
Majority 16,226 26.0
Turnout 66.4
UUP hold Swing
General Election 1970: North Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP James Kilfedder 55,679 69.0 – 9.5
Labour (NI) Kenneth Young 14,246 17.7 N/A
Independent Unionist Robert Samuel Nixon 6,408 7.9 N/A
Independent Ritchie McGladdery 3,321 4.1 N/A
Liberal Hamilton Simmons-Gooding 1,076 1.3 – 20.2
Majority 41,433 51.3 – 5.8
Turnout 66.8 + 11.9
UUP hold Swing

Elections in the 1960s[edit]

General Election 1966: North Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP George Currie 38,706 78.5 + 5.0
Liberal Sheelagh Murnaghan 10,582 21.5 + 15.3
Majority 28,124 57.1 + 2.4
Turnout 48.9 – 14.2
UUP hold Swing
General Election 1964: North Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP George Currie 45,091 73.5 – 24.5
Labour (NI) Edward Bell 11,571 18.9 N/A
Liberal Albert McElroy 3,797 6.2 N/A
Independent Republican Paddy McGrattan 855 1.4 N/A
Majority 33,520 54.7 – 41.4
Turnout 63.1 + 4.2
UUP hold Swing

Elections in the 1950s[edit]

General Election 1959: North Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP George Currie 51,773 98.0 + 1.1
Sinn Féin Joseph Campbell 1,039 2.0 – 1.2
Majority 50,734 96.1 + 2.4
Turnout 58.9 – 2.2
UUP hold Swing
General Election 1955: North Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP George Currie 50,315 96.9 + 15.5
Sinn Féin Joseph Campbell 1,637 3.2 N/A
Majority 48,678 93.7 + 31.0
Turnout 61.1 – 4.6
UUP hold Swing
North Down by-election, 1953
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Patricia Ford Unopposed N/A N/A
UUP hold Swing N/A
General Election 1951: North Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Walter Smiles 43,285 81.4 + 2.0
Labour (NI) Albert McElroy 9,914 18.6 – 2.0
Majority 33,371 62.7 + 3.9
Turnout 65.7 – 2.4
UUP hold Swing
General Election 1950: North Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Walter Smiles 41,810 79.4 N/A
Labour (NI) Albert McElroy 10,836 20.6 N/A
Majority 30,974 58.8 N/A
Turnout 68.1 N/A
UUP hold Swing N/A

Elections in the 1920s[edit]

North Down by-election, July 1922
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish Unionist John Morrow Simms Unopposed N/A N/A
Irish Unionist hold Swing N/A
North Down by-election, February 1922
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish Unionist Henry Hughes Wilson Unopposed N/A N/A
Irish Unionist hold Swing N/A
North Down by-election, 1921
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish Unionist Thomas Watters Brown Unopposed N/A N/A
Irish Unionist hold Swing N/A

Elections in the 1910s[edit]

General Election 1918: North Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish Unionist Thomas Watters Brown 9,200 81.0 N/A
Independent Unionist John Alexander Davidson 2,153 19.0 N/A
Majority 7,047 62.0 N/A
Turnout 11,353 61.7 N/A
Irish Unionist hold Swing N/A
General Election January 1910: North Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish Unionist Thomas Lorimer Corbett Unopposed N/A N/A
Irish Unionist hold Swing N/A

Elections in the 1900s[edit]

General Election 1906: North Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish Unionist Thomas Lorimer Corbett 4,878
Independent Unionist A. A. Adams 2,603
Majority
Turnout
Irish Unionist hold Swing
General Election 1900: North Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish Unionist Thomas Lorimer Corbett 4,493
Irish Unionist Robert Sharman-Crawford 3.230
Majority
Turnout
Irish Unionist hold Swing

Elections in the 1890s[edit]

North Down by-election, 1898
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish Unionist John Blakiston-Houston 3,381
Irish Unionist Thomas Corbett 3,107
Majority
Turnout
Irish Unionist hold Swing
General Election 1892: North Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish Unionist Thomas Waring Unopposed N/A N/A
Irish Unionist hold Swing N/A

Elections in the 1880s[edit]

General Election 1886: North Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Thomas Waring 4,959 83.7 +23.4
Irish Parliamentary R. M. McNabb 964 16.3 N/A
Majority 3,995 67.4 +46.8
Turnout 5,923 63.8 -13.3
Irish Unionist hold Swing N/A
General Election 1885: North Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Thomas Waring 4,315 60.3 N/A
Liberal John Shaw Brown 2,841 39.7 N/A
Majority 1,474 20.6 N/A
Turnout 7,156 77.1 N/A
Irish Unionist hold Swing N/A

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]