Northern Ireland beats a different drum when it comes to UK General Elections. The Conservatives run candidates, but most have never even visited Northern Ireland before and none will score four figures; Labour does not run at all, relying on the SDLP to take its whip; and the Liberal Democrats ask their supporters to vote Alliance (with whom some share a membership), even though Alliance does not take the Liberal Democrat whip. The Ulster Unionists were traditionally aligned with the Conservatives but went alone from 1974 to 2005 and will do so again now. The DUP has been talked of as a potential ally for UKIP, but there is no formal arrangement. The Greens run, but on a separate Irish manifesto.
Antrim, East – DUP to hold.
Held easily by Sammy Wilson since 2005, with nearly half the vote.
Antrim, North – DUP to hold.
Held easily by Ian Paisley jr, taking over from his father, in 2010, with nearly half the vote. Minor interest in battle for second Unionist party between Ulster Unionists and TUV.
Antrim, South – DUP defending against Ulster Unionist.
This seat has changed hands several times this century, and is held currently by Rev William McCrea for the DUP. It is an Ulster Unionist target, coming from less than 2000 down last time (though this gap trebled in subsequent elections).
Belfast East – Alliance defending against DUP
This seat was won in a three-way marginal by Peter Robinson of the DUP in 1979 from the Ulster Unionists and Alliance; subsequently a Unionist pact saw it safely in DUP hands. However, a three-way contest went the way of Alliance’s Naomi Long in 2010; the Unionists are attempting a pact to regain it through the DUP’s Gavin Robinson.
Belfast North – DUP to hold
A Unionist pact has secured this seat for the DUP Leader in the Commons, Nigel Dodds.
Belfast South – SDLP defending against all comers
This seat went DUP 24%, SDLP 24% and Alliance 20% in 2011 so is at least a three-way between Jonathan Bell, Alasdair McDonnell and Paula Bradshaw; Sinn Féin is running Mairtín Ó Muilleoir as a two-stop strategy to make it a four-way in future!
Belfast West – SF to hold
Paul Maskey won this with well over half the vote in a recent by-election, taking over from SF Party President Gerry Adams who held it from 1997.
Down, North – Independent to hold
Independent former Ulster Unionist Lady Hermon should have a comfortable enough gap with tactical votes to see off popular DUP challenger Alex Easton.
Down, South – SDLP to hold
Former SDLP Leader Margaret Ritchie has nearly half the vote at Westminster level here.
Fermanagh/South Tyrone – SF defending against Ulster Unionist
Having won by 52 in 2001 and 4 in 2010, popular Sinn Féin incumbent faces another race to 47% against pact-backed Ulster Unionist Tom Elliott.
Foyle – SDLP to hold
Popular SDLP incumbent Mark Durkan has no trouble attracting “Unionist” votes to win this seat easily.
Lagan Valley – DUP to hold
DUP defector Jeffrey Donaldson held the seat comfortably in 2005 and has around half the vote.
Londonderry, East – DUP to hold
DUP Executive winner Gregory Campbell has never had any trouble here after gaining it in 2001.
Mid Ulster – SF to hold
Francie Molloy’s slipped below half the vote in a recent by-election, but held on easily.
Newry/Armagh – SF to hold
A bizarre joint Unionist challenge and an SDLP campaign which has made no serious cross-community effort will see the only non-incumbent defending at this election, Mickey Brady, home handily.
Strangford – DUP to hold
Popular local worker Jim Shannon will hold this East Down seat (why is it not called that?!) comfortably in an area of considerable DUP strength.
Tyrone, West – SF to hold
Scottish-born Pat Doherty is safe here with around half the vote.
Upper Bann – DUP defending against Sinn Féin/Ulster Unionist
The SDLP has fallen far enough to turn this into a genuine three-way – Sinn Féin was actually the leading party here for first preferences in 2011. The DUP incumbent David Simpson will make this fact widely known as he seeks to hold off popular Ulster Unionist Jo-Anne Dobson.