Constituency profile: Newry and Armagh

25 February 2017

In the run-up to the 2017 Assembly elections we are taking a detailed look at the 18 constituencies around Northern Ireland. Today we focus on Newry and Armagh.

Newry and Armagh

Ahead of an election which poses few certainties, we find one in Newry and Armagh: at least one of the six MLAs elected at last May’s poll will lose out this time around. Indeed, all six candidates returned then are seeking re-election. The fact that only nine are standing – the lowest number of any constituency – makes this battle more interesting. Since 2003, Sinn Féin has held three seats, with the DUP, UUP and SDLP splitting the remainder. A five-seat poll brings to an end the long-held perception that this is a somewhat predictable race. The nine candidates running in Newry and Armagh are listed below.


Boylan, Cathal

Sinn Féin

Coade, Jackie


Crossan, Emmet


Fearon, Megan

Sinn Féin

Irwin, William


Kennedy, Danny


McNulty, Justin


Murphy, Conor

Sinn Féin

Tunnicliffe, Rowan

Green Party


At a glance 

  • The number of candidates has dropped since last May’s election, from 14 to nine. Sinn Féin is running all three candidates who were returned to the Assembly nine months ago; the UUP and SDLP have each opted to stand one candidate, not two, in 2017.

  • Since the return of Stormont elections in 1998, only four parties have won seats in this constituency: the DUP, the SDLP, Sinn Féin and the UUP. That this has not been a favourable constituency for independents or smaller parties is underlined by the low number of nominees.

  • Of the six outgoing MLAs running for re-election, only Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy and UUP’s Danny Kennedy have emerged victorious at each Assembly poll since 1998. Between Murphy’s election to the Assembly in 2011 and 2016 he resigned as an MLA to serve as MP for the constituency due to the party’s policy of ending double-jobbing.

  • Neither Sinn Féin’s Meagan Fearon nor the SDLP’s Justin McNulty have served a full term at Stormont. Fearon was first co-opted as an MLA in 2012. McNulty was a successful challenger in May.



Previously a staunch SDLP constituency under former deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon, recent Assembly elections have seen Sinn Féin win and consolidate its hold over three of the constituency’s six seats. This feat may now prove difficult to replicate, though the party will be hoping for a high turnout amongst its base and a favourable distribution of transfers between all three candidates.

The DUP’s long-standing MLA in the constituency, William Irwin, topped May's vote, and will enter the contest confident of being returned. Having stood two nominees respectively in 2016, the UUP and SDLP will look for their sole contestants to get over the line again, too. Just like most other constituencies, however, there are few guarantees.