Constituency profile: Belfast North

01 March 2017

In the run-up to the 2017 Assembly elections we are taking a detailed look at the 18 constituencies around Northern Ireland. Our latest profile is for Belfast North.

Belfast North

While Belfast North has returned a unionist MP to Westminster in every general election since the start of the 20th century, when it comes to the Assembly, seats have been equally split between unionists and nationalists  three each. However, that is set to change in 2017.

Possibly the most divided of the 18 constituencies, the question is whether it will be the DUP or a combination of nationalists holding sway after 2 March. Elsewhere, the Alliance Party has been gaining ground thanks to the efforts of Belfast City Councillor Nuala McAllister, though the reduction in seats will be an added challenge for her. The 13 candidates standing in Belfast North on 2 March are listed below. 


Bradley, Paula


Corr-Johnston, Julie-Anne


Ferguson, Fiona


Foster, Robert


Humphrey, William


Kelly, Gerry

Sinn Féin

Mallon, Nichola


McAllister, Nuala


McCausland, Nelson


Millar, Adam


Ní Chuilín, Carál

Sinn Féin

O'Hara, Mal

Green Party

Weir, Gemma

Workers Party


At a glance

  • Belfast North will feature 13 candidates, compared to 18 in 2016. A number of contestants have been replaced on the ballot since May, such as the UUP’s Lesley Carroll and PUP leader Billy Hutchinson. Others not running include the UKIP’s Ken Boyle and John Miller of the TUV.

  • Independent Adam Millar and the UUP’s Robert Foster are new names in the process.

  • More women than men are running in the constituency this time round: seven to six.

  • TUV councillor Jolene Bunting wanted to challenge here but was barred by the party due to a "disappointing performance in the constituency” and “the fact that branch finances are very low”. She subsequently resigned from the party on 28 February.



All eyes will be on which way the balance tilts: towards nationalism or unionism. The race for a fifth seat is probably a contest between former Sinn Féin Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín and the SDLP’s Nichola Mallon. Ní Chuilín secured 143 more first-preference votes than the SDLP candidate last time out.

The Alliance Party’s Nuala McAllister is seeking to increase her vote this time. Even if she does, the reduction in seats makes it likely that she ends up on the wrong side of the finishing line, as she was in 2016. 

The smaller parties and the sole independent are on the fringes, though there exists potential for a breakthrough. If People Before Profit hopeful Fiona Ferguson is able to carry the party’s Belfast West success to the north of the city, she could be the dark horse.

Transfers and DUP vote management will ultimately determine the winner.