Constituency profile: North Antrim

22 February 2017

In the run-up to the 2017 Assembly election we are taking a detailed look at the 18 constituencies around Northern Ireland. Today we focus on North Antrim.

North Antrim

The DUP has dominated North Antrim in recent years having won three of its six seats in every election since 1998. The Ulster Unionists grabbed two that year, though it has held a single spot since 2003. Sinn Féin, meanwhile, lost out in 1998 but later took its current seat at the 2003 contest. The remaining place was occupied by the SDLP from 1998 until 2007, when Jim Allister claimed it for the TUV. The 12 candidates standing in North Antrim on 2 March are listed below.


Allister, Jim


Bailey, Mark

Green Party

Digney, Monica


Duncan, Connor


Frew, Paul


Gaston, Timothy


Logan, Phillip


McBride, Adam


McGuigan, Philip

Sinn Féin

O'Lynn, Patricia


Storey, Mervyn


Swann, Robin




At a glance

  • The DUP is fielding all three of its outgoing MLAs but not a fourth candidate, as has been the case in recent elections. David McIlveen, a former MLA who lost his seat in 2016, misses out as a result.

  • Philip McGuigan replaced Daithí McKay through co-option, last summer and will be Sinn Féin’s candidate in 2017. The UUP, meanwhile, is only standing one candidate – six-year MLA Robin Swann.

  • The TUV and the SDLP are represented by the same nominees as last year whilst the Green Party and Alliance have selected new contestants for 2017.

  • There are two new independents on the ballot paper, one of whom is Councillor Monica Digney, formerly of Sinn Féin. UKIP, NI Labour and the Conservatives are not running.



The DUP will be confident of retaining two seats here. Paul Frew and Mervyn Storey look the better bets – freshman MLA Philip Logan was some way behind them in first preferences last year, but did come through to take the fourth spot on transfers. However, with fewer seats available he may be in a less sure position. Jim Allister should feel secure, though an extra TUV representative would be surprising.

Nationalism’s outlook seems less certain, a fall-out within the local Sinn Féin team leading to incumbent Philip McGuigan (a replacement for Daithí McKay) being challenged by Monica Digney. Digney, running as an independent, is a long-time Sinn Féín councillor who exited the party in protest at McGuigan’s selection. This development could see a split in the Sinn Féin vote.

SDLP candidate Connor Duncan could benefit here and break through as a result of a split vote, potentially garnering more first preferences. That said, all will be relying on transfers, which will ultimately determine the winner of this one seat.

The fifth and final opening is likely to be contested the UUP and DUP. The absence of a UKIP option and transfers from both the TUV and Alliance may be particularly significant here. Should Alliance and TUV votes go to Robin Swann, he may well be home and dry – any swing from the DUP to the UUP would also help. If a sizeable proportion of transfers go to the DUP, Philip Logan could emerge the victor.