South Down (UK Parliament constituency)

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For other constituencies of the same name, see South Down (disambiguation).
South Down
County constituency
SouthDownConstituency.svg
South Down shown within Northern Ireland
Created: 1885, 1950
MP: Margaret Ritchie
Party: Social Democratic and Labour
Type: House of Commons
Districts: Down, Banbridge, Newry and Mourne
EP constituency: Northern Ireland
South Down
Former County constituency
for the House of Commons
18851922
Replaced by Down
Created from Down

South Down is a parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom House of Commons.

Boundaries[edit]

The county constituency was first created in 1885 from the southern part of Down. It was defined as including 'The Baronies of – Iveagh Upper, Lower Half, Lordship of Newry, and Mourne, and so much of the Barony of Iveagh Upper, Upper Half, as comprises the Parishes of – Clonallan, Donaghmore, Drumgath, Kilbroney, and Warrenpoint.'.[1] In 1918, it was redefined as including 'The rural district of Newry No. 1; the part of the rural district of Kilkeel which is not included in the East Down Division; and the urban districts of Newcastle, Newry and Warrenpoint.'[2] From the dissolution of Parliament in 1922, it was merged back into Down. Maps showing the component units of the constituency can be seen here.

The seat was re-created in 1950 when the old Down two MP constituency was abolished as part of the final move to single member seats. Originally the seat consisted of most of the mid and southern parts of County Down, with the north included in North Down. It was defined as including '(i) The urban districts of Banbridge, Downpatrick, Dromore, Kilkeel, Newcastle, Newry and Warrenpoint; (ii) the rural districts of Banbridge, Downpatrick, Kilkeel, Moira and Newry No. 1.'[3] Of the post 1973 districts, it contained all of Down and Banbridge, together with parts of Newry and Mourne, Ards and Craigavon.

In 1983 the seat was radically cut down as part of an expansion of Northern Ireland's constituencies from 12 to 17. Significant parts of the constituency were transferred to either Upper Bann or Newry and Armagh. The composition of the seat in 1983 was the entire district of Down, the Annaclone, Ballyoolymore, Croob, Dromore, Drumadonnell, Garran, Quilly and Skeagh electoral wards of Banbridge, and the Annalong, Ballycrossan, Binnian, Clonallan, Cranfield, Donaghmore, Drumgath, Kilkeel, Lisnacree, Rathfriland, Rostrevor, Seaview, and Spelga wards from Newry and Mourne.[4]

In boundary changes proposed by a review in 1995, the seat was originally to be abolished and replaced by a new Mid Down constituency. This provoked a storm of protest and following a local enquiry minor changes were made with the seat losing one small section to Lagan Valley and another to Strangford. It still consists of parts of Down, Banbridge and Newry and Mourne districts.

In 2005, the Boundary Commission published provisional recommendations for modifying the boundaries of constituencies in Northern Ireland. For South Down, it originally proposed to add part of Newry from Newry and Armagh and the Loughbrickland part of Banbridge district from Upper Bann, while losing some more of Down to Strangford. These changes were challenged in a round of public consultations, with the result that revised recommendations were made. Under the new proposals, the Newry area remained in Newry and Armagh and Loughbrickland in Upper Bann. This meant that only 4 wards around the town of Ballynahinch were transferred to Strangford. These changes became the final recommendations and were given legal effect in 2008.

History[edit]

1885 to 1922[edit]

The constituency was a predominantly Nationalist area in 1918. The Unionists had significant but minority support. The Sinn Féin candidate polled poorly, probably due to the limited electoral pact to avoid seriously splitting the anti-unionist vote in seats the unionist candidate might have otherwise won.

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 potential eight-member Dáil constituency of Down.

1950 to present[edit]

When initially created this seat had a clear unionist majority, albeit with a strong nationalist minority. However boundary changes, which have wrapped it closer around nationalist heartlands near Downpatrick and the Mournes have transformed South Down into a safe nationalist seat.

The Westminster seat was consistently held by the Ulster Unionist Party from its creation until 1987. In the October 1974 general election the former Conservative MP Enoch Powell defended the seat for the UUP, representing a coup for them as they gained the support of a high profile English politician, offering them a spokesperson to the United Kingdom as a whole.

Powell advocated a policy of integration for Northern Ireland whereby all forms of devolution would be wound up and the province governed as an integral part of the United Kingdom. As part of this he campaigned for the province to have the same ratio of MPs to population as in the rest of the United Kingdom, rather than fewer, which had previously been justified due to the existence of the devolved Stormont Parliament. Powell was successful in this but a side effect was that in his own constituency a significant block of unionist voters were removed, resulting in a nationalist majority. Powell managed to survive due to a split nationalist vote, but in 1987 he narrowly lost to Eddie McGrady of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, who held the seat until retiring in 2010.

Since then the unionist vote has declined further due to boundary changes, which excluded mainly unionist Dromore and Saintfield, and a trend for many unionists to tactically vote for the SDLP at Westminster elections to avoid the seat falling to Sinn Féin.

Members of Parliament[edit]

The Member of Parliament since the 2010 general election is Margaret Ritchie of the Social Democratic and Labour Party. She succeeded fellow SDLP MP Eddie McGrady, who had held the seat since 1987 when he defeated Enoch Powell of the Ulster Unionist Party who had represented the seat since October 1974.

  • In this section by-elections are indicated by an asterisk after the date.
Election Member Party
1885 constituency created
1885 John Francis Small Irish Parliamentary
1886 Michael McCartan Irish Parliamentary
1892 Irish National Federation
1900 Irish Parliamentary
1902 * Jeremiah McVeagh Irish Parliamentary
1922 constituency abolished – see Down
1950 constituency re-created
1950 Lawrence Orr Ulster Unionist
Oct 1974 Enoch Powell Ulster Unionist
1987 Eddie McGrady Social Democratic and Labour
2010 Margaret Ritchie Social Democratic and Labour

Elections[edit]

Elections in the 2010s[edit]

General Election 2010: South Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
SDLP Margaret Ritchie 20,648 48.5 1.6
Sinn Féin Caitríona Ruane 12,236 28.7 1.7
DUP Jim Wells 3,645 8.6 -7.6
UCU-NF John McCallister 3,093 7.3 -1.5
TUV Ivor McConnell 1,506 3.5 3.5
Green (NI) Cadogan Enright 901 2.1 2.1
Alliance David Griffin 560 1.3 0
Majority 8,412 19.8
Turnout 42,589 60.2 -8.5
SDLP hold Swing 0.1

Elections in the 2000s[edit]

General Election 2005: South Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
SDLP Eddie McGrady 21,557 44.7 -1.6
Sinn Féin Caitriona Ruane 12,417 25.8 +6.1
DUP Jim Wells 8,815 18.3 +3.3
UUP Dermot Nesbitt 4,775 9.9 -7.7
Alliance Julian Crozier 613 1.3 0.0
Majority 9,140 19.0
Turnout 48,177 65.4 -5.4
SDLP hold Swing -3.8
General Election 2001: South Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
SDLP Eddie McGrady 24,136 46.3 -6.6
Sinn Féin Mick Murphy 10,278 19.7 +9.4
UUP Dermot Nesbitt 9,173 17.6 -15.2
DUP Jim Wells 7,802 15.0 0.0
Alliance Betty Campbell 685 1.3 -2.1
Majority 13,858 26.6
Turnout 52,074 70.8 0.0
SDLP hold Swing

Elections in the 1990s[edit]

General Election 1997: South Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
SDLP Eddie McGrady 26,181 52.9
UUP Dermot Nesbitt 16,248 32.8
Sinn Féin Mick Murphy 5,127 10.4
Alliance Julian Crozier 1,711 3.5
Natural Law Rosaleen McKeon 219 0.4
Majority 9,933
Turnout 70.8
SDLP hold Swing
General Election 1992: South Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
SDLP Eddie McGrady 31,523 51.2
UUP Drew Nelson 25,181 40.9
Sinn Féin Sean Fitzpatrick 1,843 3.0
Alliance Michael Healey 1,542 2.5
Conservative Stephanie McKenzie-Hill 1,488 2.4
Majority 6,342
Turnout 80.9
SDLP hold Swing

Elections in the 1980s[edit]

General Election 1987: South Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
SDLP Eddie McGrady 26,579 47.0
UUP Enoch Powell 25,848 45.7
Sinn Féin Geraldine Ritchie 2,363 4.2
Alliance Siobhan Laird 1,069 1.9
Workers' Party Desmond O'Hagan 675 1.2
Majority 731 1.3
Turnout 79.4
SDLP gain from UUP Swing
South Down by-election, 1986
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Enoch Powell 24,963
SDLP Eddie McGrady 23,121
Sinn Féin Hugh McDowell 2,963
Workers' Party Sean Magee 522
Majority 1,842
Turnout
UUP hold Swing
General Election 1983: South Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Enoch Powell 20,693 40.3
SDLP Eddie McGrady 20,145 39.3
Sinn Féin Patrick Fitzsimmons 4,074 7.9
DUP Cecil Harvey 3,743 7.3
Alliance Patrick Forde 1,823 3.6
Workers' Party Margaret Magee 851 1.7
Majority 548 1.1
Turnout 77.7
UUP hold Swing

Elections in the 1970s[edit]

General Election 1979: South Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Enoch Powell 32,254 50.0
SDLP Eddie McGrady 24,033 37.3
Alliance Patrick Forde 4,407 6.8
Irish Independence John Markey 1,853 2.9
Republican Clubs Desmond O'Hagan 1,682 2.6
Inter-Dependence Party Francis Rice 216 0.3
Reform Peter Courtney 31 0.1
Majority 8,221 12.8
Turnout 72.0
UUP hold Swing
General Election October 1974: South Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Enoch Powell 33,614 50.8
SDLP Sean Hollywood 30,047 45.4
Republican Clubs Gerard O'Hanlon 2,327 3.5
Marxist-Leninist (Ireland) David Vipond 152 0.2
Majority 3,567 5.4
Turnout 72.4
UUP hold Swing
General Election February 1974: South Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Lawrence Orr 31,088 52.1
SDLP Sean Hollywood 25,486 42.8
Republican Clubs Hugh Golding 3,046 5.1
Majority 5,602 9.4
Turnout 65.0
UUP hold Swing
General Election 1970: South Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Lawrence Orr 34,894 54.3
Unity Hugh Golding 21,676 33.7
Liberal John Quinn 7,747 12.1
Majority 13,218 20.6
Turnout 74.0
UUP hold Swing

Elections in the 1960s[edit]

General Election 1966: South Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Lawrence Orr 32,876 64.0
Liberal John Quinn 9,586 18.7
Independent Republican George Mussen 8,917 17.4
Majority 23,290 45.3
Turnout 65.8
UUP hold Swing
General Election 1964: South Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Lawrence Orr 32,922 59.0
Independent Republican George Mussen 11,031 19.8
Labour (NI) Samuel Thompson 6,260 11.2
Liberal Hamilton Gooding 5,610 10.1
Majority 21,891 39.2
Turnout 72.1
UUP hold Swing

Elections in the 1950s[edit]

General Election 1959: South Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Lawrence Orr 36,875 85.4
Sinn Féin Kevin O'Rourke 6,298 14.6
Majority 30,577 70.8
Turnout 55.6
UUP hold Swing
General Election 1955: South Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Lawrence Orr 37,921 65.9
Sinn Féin Kevin O'Rourke 19,624 34.1
Majority 18,297 31.8
Turnout 73.9
UUP hold Swing
General Election 1951: South Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Lawrence Orr 37,789 58.4
Independent Republican Gerald Annesley 26,976 41.6
Majority 10,813 16.7
Turnout 82.0
UUP hold Swing
General Election 1950: South Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Lawrence Orr 38,508 63.5
Irish Labour Jack MacGougan 22,176 36.5
Majority 16,332 26.9
Turnout 76.7
UUP hold Swing

Elections in the 1910s[edit]

General Election 14 December 1918: South Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish Parliamentary Jeremiah McVeagh 8,756 59.2% N/A
Irish Unionist John Alexander Weir Johnston 5,573 37.7% N/A
Independent Alexander Fisher 436 2.9% N/A
Sinn Féin Éamon de Valera 33 0.2% N/A
Majority 3,183 21.5% N/A
Turnout 18,708 N/A
Irish Parliamentary hold Swing N/A

Elections in the 1900s[edit]

General Election 1906: South Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish Parliamentary Jeremiah McVeagh 3,910 N/A
Irish Unionist Peter Kerr-Smiley N/A
Majority N/A
Turnout N/A
Irish Parliamentary hold Swing N/A

Irish Parliamentary Party candidate Jeremiah McVeagh was elected unopposed in a by-election 19 February 1902.[5]

General Election 1900: South Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish National Federation Michael McCartan Unopposed N/A N/A
Irish National Federation hold Swing N/A

Elections in the 1890s[edit]

General Election 1895: South Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish National Federation Michael McCartan 4,057 54.6 +1.2
Liberal Unionist T. Rowan 3,378 45.4 -0.7
Majority 679
Turnout 7,435
Irish National Federation hold Swing
General Election 1892: South Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish National Federation Michael McCartan 4,207 53.4 +53.4
Liberal Unionist J. W. Craig 3,636 46.1 +46.1
Parnellite Nationalist E. Magenis 42 0.5 +0.5
Majority 571 7.3
Turnout 7,885
Irish National Federation gain from Irish Parliamentary Swing

Elections in the 1880s[edit]

General Election 1886: South Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish Parliamentary Michael McCartan 4,786 55.6 -1.6
Conservative R. S. Corbett 3,816 44.4 +1.6
Majority 970
Turnout 8,602
Irish Parliamentary hold Swing
General Election 1885: South Down
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish Parliamentary John Francis Small 4,995 57.2 +57.2
Conservative W. H. Kisbey QC 3,743 42.8 +42.8
Majority 1,252 14.4 +14.4
Turnout 8,738
Irish Parliamentary hold Swing

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Redistribution of Seats Act, 1885, (Ch 23) Seventh Schedule, Part III – Ireland – County of Down
  2. ^ Redistribution of Seats (Ireland) Act, 1918, (Ch 65) Fourth Schedule,
  3. ^ Representation of the People Act, 1948 (Ch 65) First Schedule, Part IV – Northern Ireland – (a) County Constituencies
  4. ^ Crewe, Ivor (1983). British Parliamentary Constituencies – a Statistical Compendium. faber and faber. ISBN 0-571-13236-7. 
  5. ^ "Election intelligence" The Times (London). Thursday, 20 February 1902. (36696), p. 10.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]