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West Belfast

2010 Results:
Sinn Fein: 22840 (71.1%)
SDLP: 5261 (16.4%)
DUP: 2436 (7.6%)
UCUNF: 1000 (3.1%)
Alliance: 596 (1.9%)
Majority: 17579 (54.7%)

Notional 2005 Results:
SF: 25701 (69.8%)
SDLP: 5520 (15%)
DUP: 3989 (10.8%)
UUP: 1162 (3.2%)
Alliance: 261 (0.7%)
Other: 186 (0.5%)
Majority: 20181 (54.8%)

2005 Result:
SF: 24348 (71.3%)
SDLP: 5033 (14.7%)
DUP: 3652 (10.7%)
UU: 779 (2.3%)
Rainbow: 154 (0.5%)
Ind: 147 (0.4%)
Workers: 32 (0.1%)
Majority: 19315 (56.6%)

Boundary Changes: Gains Dunmurry ward and part of Derriaghy ward – uniquely in the whole of the boundary review, this leavies Derriaghy divided between two different constituencies.

Profile: The most Catholic seat in Northern Ireland, the heartland of Republicanism and the poorest and most depressed in Northern Ireland. It is a young seat of council housing, the unemployed poor, and single parent families.

The core of the seat is the Falls Road area, with the municipal terraces and paramilitary murals that characterise the public image of Northern Ireland and the troubles. To the north – across the barricades of the peace line – is part of the loyalist stronghold of the Shankill and to the south the estates of Twinbrook and Poleglass. There are comparatively middle class pockets, and pockets of protestants like Suffolk, but mostly this is a homogenous, poor, working class Catholic seat.

In the past this seat was represented by Gerry Fitt, who won it as Republican Labour in 1966, founded the SDLP in 1970 and left his own party in 1979. He failed to retain the seat as an independent in 1983 and the split nationalist vote alowed Gerry Adams to become the first Sinn Fein MP for decades. Adams lost his seat to the SDLP’s Joe Hendron in 1992, but won it back in 1997 and – with the addition of Poleglass and Twinbrook in the 1990s it became a safe Sinn Fein seat. Sinn Fein are now totally dominant here – securing over seventy percent of the vote and, in a remarkable bit of vote management, managing to secure 5 out of the 6 seats here in the 2007 assembly elections (the other being held by the SDLP’s Alex Attwood).

portraitCurrent MP: Paul Maskey (Sinn Fein) Born 1969. Belfast councillor 2001-2009. MLA for Belfast West since 2007.

2011 By-election.

Gerry Adams resigned from the Commons on the 26th January 2011 in order to contest the seat of Louth in the Republic of Ireland general election. Adams initially refused to apply for the Chiltern Hundreds or manor of Northstead, instead attempting to resign by writing to the Speaker. He was subsequently appointed Steward of the Manor of Northstead. The by-election was held on the 9th June and was a easy hold for Sinn Fein.

By-election candidates:
portraitPaul Maskey (Sinn Fein) Born 1969. Belfast councillor 2001-2009. MLA for Belfast West since 2007.
portraitAlex Attwood (SDLP) Born 1959, Belfast. Educated at Queens University. Solicitor. Belfast councillor since 1985. Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for Belfast West since 1998. NI Minister for Social Development since 2010. Contested West Belfast 2001, 2005, 2010.
portraitGerry Carroll (People Before Profit)
portraitBrian Kingston (DUP)
portraitBill Manwaring (UUP)
portraitAaron McIntyre (Alliance)

2010 election candidates:
portraitGerry Adams (Sinn Fein) born 1948, Belfast. Educated at St Mary’s Christian Brothers Grammar School. Former bartender, turned international figurehead of Irish Republicanism. Interned during the 1970s he was allowed at the IRA’s request to take part in secret talks with the British government. He has on several occassioned been named as a former member of the IRA army council, but has consistently denied membership of it. Became President of Sinn Fein in 1983, first elected as MP for West Belfast in 1983 he survived an assassination attempt shortly afterwards in 1984. He lost the seat in 1992, but regained it in 1997 and like all Sinn Fein MPs has refused to take his seat at Westminster. Has achieved what would at most points in the past have been seen as the impossible – leading Sinn Fein into power sharing agreement with Ian Paisley’s DUP, those Adams himself has not taken up a position within the Northern Ireland Executive, instead leaving Martin McGuiness, Sinn Fein’s Chief Negotiator, to become Deputy First Minister of the province.
portraitBill Manwaring (UCUNF)
portraitWilliam Humphrey (DUP)
portraitAlex Attwood (SDLP)
portraitMarie Hendron (Alliance)
NB - The constituency guide is now archived and is no longer being updated. The new guide is at

170 Responses to “West Belfast”

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  1. Do you know something about the Alliance candidate the rest of us don’t? Has Bobby Sands been nominated posthumasely or something?

  2. Statement of Persons Nominated

    Alex Attwood (SDLP)
    Gerry Carroll (People Before Profit Alliance)
    Brian Kingston (Democratic Unionist Party)
    Bill Manwaring (Ulster Unionist Party)
    Paul Maskey (Sinn Féin)
    Aaron McIntyre (Alliance)

    DUP and UUP candidates live in Belfast North. Alliance comes from Lagan Valley.

    SF and SDLP candidates are MLA members for Belfast West. DUP, UUP and PBP candidates stood last month in Belfast West .

  3. The Alliance candidate stood unsuccessfully for the Dunmurry Cross area of Lisburn City Council, which is within this constituency.

    Kingston is a councillor for the Court area of Belfast City Council, which is partially within this constituency.

  4. Prediction:-
    SF = 68%
    SDLP = 14%
    DUP = 8%
    PBP = 5%
    UUP = 4%
    Alli = 1%

    SF Maj = 54%

  5. Does anybody have any idea whether or not it will be a Thursday count, or a Friday count.

  6. Joseph, it’s Thursday night

    Count Commences…10pm on Thursday 9 June 2011

  7. I don’t have enough knowledge of Northern Ireland politics to make a prediction. But I’d be surprised if Gerry Adams didn’t have a bit of a personal vote from otherwise SDLP voters.

  8. Sinn Fein polled 71%. SDLP 2nd, PBP 3rd. DUP 4th with 6%. The UUP and Alliance parties both lost their deposits with 1.6% and 0.5% respectively.

  9. Paul Maskey (Sinn Fein) 16,211 (70.63%)
    Alex Attwood (SDLP) 3,088 (13.45%)
    Gerry Carroll (People Before Profit) 1,751 (7.62%)
    Brian Kingston (DUP) 1,393 (6.06%)
    Bill Manwarring (UUP) 386 (1.68%)
    Aaron McIntyre (Alliance) 122 (0.53%)

    Turnout: 37.53%

  10. Little in the way of surprises. Those expecting the SF vote to slump with Adams’ departure were disappointed; this is no surprise, given the party’s Assembly and local results. Their share only fell very slightly, and their majority actually increased, leaving this the third safest seat anywhere in the UK.

    The SDLP can’t have hoped for much, but it was still a poor result, their share falling almost 3% to a record low for a Westminster election.

    People Before Profit (basically, the SWP) did poll fairly well here in the Assembly election, although they never threatened for a seat. They increased their share significantly this time, and held their deposit.

    I thought that the DUP might increase their vote a little, at the expense of the UUP. The UUP vote did indeed fall – enough that they recorded their worst ever result – but the DUP couldn’t take advantage, and their share also fell.

    I really don’t know why Alliance bothered standing a candidate. They did badly, and have always done badly.

    In short – a good result for SF and People Before Profit, not great for the SDLP, DUP and Alliance, and pretty miserable for the UUP.

  11. Although the boundary commission proposals for the new South West Belfast seat will make this a little less overwhelmingly Sinn Fein, it should still be very safe for them: some of the new votes from middle-class South Belfast will be compensated by the loss of hostile Shankill wards northwards.

    Even though Sinn Fein didn’t even stand in South Belfast last year, I calculate that the notional result for the proposed seat from that election gives Sinn Fein 54% of the vote and a majority of over 11,000. If they had stood, based on the 2005 result I think you could move 1,000 votes over from SDLP to Sinn Fein, giving the latter 56% and a majority of 13,000.

    I’ve posted my calculations here:

  12. Which electoral areas of the City of Lisburn does this seat cover? In the City of Belfast it takes in the electoral areas of Lower Falls, Upper Falls and part of Court, which area is shared with Nigel Dodds’ seat of Belfast North.

  13. “Which electoral areas of the City of Lisburn does this seat cover?”

    It covers most of the Dunmurry Cross EA, specifically the wards of Kilwee, Poleglass, Twinbrook and Dunmurry and, in the only case of a split ward anywhere in the UK on the current boudanries, part of Derryvaghy. This area is overwhelmingly Repblican, mostly consisting of council estates.

    “which area is shared with Nigel Dodds’ seat of Belfast North”

    This is the Shankill EA. Glencairn, HIghland and Shankill wards are in this seat while Crumlin and Woodvale are in Belfast North. The whole of this EA will be united in Belfast North if the Boundary commission follow through with their initial proposals.

  14. If you google “CAIN distribution of Catholics by ward level” you should be able to find maps of Northern Ireland wards colour coded by the 2001 census.

    If you look up then you will find lovely maps of all councils and their wards.

    With regard to the Dunmurray cross DEA, the Seymour Hill and South Derryvaghy wards are two rather protestant areas (the rest being republican) and these two “happen” to have been included in Lagan Valley.

  15. ‘the only case of a split ward anywhere in the UK on the current boudanries’

    I believe some London borough wards were split between seats (not counting cross-borough constituencies) before the 2010 boundary changes which resulted in whole wards now being within constituencies, unlike in eg Edinburgh and Glasgow which still have split wards in most of their seats

  16. No. There were ward boundary changes in 2002 in London. This meant that many of the new wards were split between the existing constituencies which had been created for the 1997 election on the previous wards. Those constituencies were constructed from whole wards which were in use at the time. This is a different thing where a current ward (which of course has no electoral use anyway in NI) was split in the drawing up of a boundary. Of course there are countless cases where wards end up split between constituencies after the boundaries have been established because of subsequent ward boundary changes. This is already the case now for certain wards in Bedfordshire, Cornwall, Cheshire etc. The situation in Scotland is likewise that the current constituencies were drawn up before the 2005 election and were based on the old single member wards which were in use at that time

  17. ‘the Shankill EA’

    There is no such electoral area! (unless I haven’t noticed a re-drawing of boundaries) Shankill ward is in the Court electoral area.

    The Republic has electoral areas as well, I am not sure if they are made up of wards.

  18. Perhaps he’s using the term ‘electoral area’ not in its truest sense but as a shorthand to refer to the community?

  19. Have St Peter’s Cathedral, Dunmurry, Shankill and Poleglass been in this seat since 1922?

  20. Dunmurry and Poleglass were only added in 1997. Shankill – yes I’m pretty sure

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