Belfast Telegraph

General Election 2019

Constituency: East Antrim


Electorate Seats Total Poll Turnout Valid Poll Spoiled Votes
64,830 1 37,431 57.74% 37,261 170

Vote Distribution

Count 1

Count Results

  1
Sammy Wilson Sammy Wilson * DUP 16871
Danny Donnelly Danny Donnelly AP 10165
Steve Aiken Steve Aiken UUP 5475
Oliver McMullan Oliver McMullan SF 2120
Aaron Rankin Aaron Rankin CON 1043
Angela Mulholland Angela Mulholland SDLP 902
Philip Randle Philip Randle GRN 685
  1
Sammy Wilson Sammy Wilson * DUP 16871
Danny Donnelly Danny Donnelly AP 10165
Steve Aiken Steve Aiken UUP 5475
Oliver McMullan Oliver McMullan SF 2120
Aaron Rankin Aaron Rankin CON 1043
Angela Mulholland Angela Mulholland SDLP 902
Philip Randle Philip Randle GRN 685

Constituency Profile

'Nationalists need not apply' is a phrase that could easily be affixed to the election in East Antrim which has always been a unionist battleground.

Fittingly for a coastal constituency, it would appear the incumbent, Sammy Wilson of the DUP, is yet again home in a boat.

New Ulster Unionist leader Steve Aiken aims to capsize that outcome, however, mopping up all unionist Remain supporters and encouraging tactical voting by others to wound Wilson.

As his party's most gung-ho Brexiteer, even before Brexit, Wilson will next year have represented East Antrim for 15 years.

In a perfect storm, were unionist votes to divide equally between him and Aiken - they both live in the constituency - Alliance, especially if its recent surge in the Euro and local government elections is repeated, could come through the middle.

In one nasty incident Alliance activists had an egg thrown at them in Carrickfergus last week. But the party has deep roots in the constituency. Veteran standard-bearer Stewart Dickson fought his way into second place behind Wilson in the unexpected 2017 contest (albeit far behind on a 16% vote share compared to Wilson's 57%).

And in the 1997 poll the late Sean Neeson beat the DUP's Jack McKee into third place, though by just a few hundred votes. So what is the public mood?

People in the centre of Carrick reflect a combustible mix of confusion and anger, apathy and alienation - though everyone I spoke to intends to vote.

Accountant Beverly McCallum, from the town's Sandringham estate, will be out of the country come December 12 but has arranged a postal vote.

"I am hoping common sense will prevail and we will stay in the EU," she said. "My mother many years ago said the 'D' in DUP stood for 'destructive' not democratic and that has been proved. I think a lot of people have changed their minds."

Couple Lee and Leeann Ferguson say any indifference is the product of politicians failing to implement the will of the people.

"I don't follow politics much but they don't seem to take what people want into account, as with same sex marriage, they follow their own religious views rather than people's," said Lee.

"That's what sort of puts people off," Leeann added.

Colin Hermin, from nearby Ballyeaston, said: "I think the whole Brexit mess is the big player in this election but I think it seems we are headed towards a second referendum.

"I do think there is apathy because the politicians do not do anything," the civil servant went on.

Locally the only issue mentioned is the campaign against the Gas Caverns project in Islandmagee, which residents insist would damage a key local beauty spot.

Brexit is front and centre in East Antrim but the central theme is uncertainty.

Businessman Andy Kilpatrick said: "Uncertainty is not good for business at any time. Stability is vital for confidence."

His firm northXsouth is built on supplying consumer goods across the border. But he said the "lion's share" of the business is split between GB and the Republic.

"Our viability is not dependent on any particular flavour of Brexit, but the hope remains our elected representatives can demonstrate the leadership required to form a local government and ensure that our voices are heard loud and clear at regional, national and international level," he said.

Sammy Wilson argues that "we have to stop the deal the Prime Minister has which would destroy the Union and also ensure Northern Ireland gets the kind of representation that delivers". But Steve Aiken counters that if Boris Johnson's deal is the only one available it would be better for Northern Ireland to Remain. "The DUP has put the Union under threat and not listened to farmers or the unionist community," he said.

Alliance candidate Danny Donnelly insists a "fair few" on the doorsteps have changed their views and would prefer to stay but also there is "real anger" over the state of patient waiting lists and school budgets "as well as MLAs who won't work together".

East Antrim is also enjoying a wider choice of candidates than other constituencies, with Philip Randle standing for the Greens and Aaron Rankin for the NI Conservatives.

Oliver McMullan is once again holding the ring for Sinn Fein while Ballymoney councillor Angela Mulholland replaces Margaret Anne McKillip on the SDLP ticket.

East Antrim will celebrate its 40th birthday in 2023 and for most of that time, 22 years, its MP was the Ulster Unionist Roy Beggs, whose son, also Roy, is now an MLA.

In 1995 and 2010 boundary changes which brought the loss of parts of Newtownabbey and the adoption of three wards in Moyle made the constituency 4% more Catholic and 4% less Protestant. According to the last census, more than 70% of constituents say they were brought up as Protestants.

Although a coastal area, compete with its own mini-peninsula of Islandmagee, which now hosts the international attraction of the Gobbins cliff path, the feeling of East Antrim is largely urban.

When the sprawl of north Belfast becomes Newtownabbey and spreads seamlessly through Jordanstown and Greenisland to Carrickfergus, the constituency only looks like countryside briefly before you hit the large port town of Larne. Industry along this eastern strip has been denuded since the late 1970s, with the loss of Courtaulds and GEC.

Yet any Brexit bounce is arguably going to work in Wilson's favour in a constituency where 55% voted to leave compared to nearly 45% of Remainers.

Wilson had almost twice the vote of Beggs when he won the seat in 2005 - 15,766 votes against 8,462 - and, despite some slippage to UKIP, has held it solidly ever since. It was one area where the TUV could have been expected to inflict some damage, but didn't.

On the Ballot

Steve Aiken

Steve Aiken

Ulster Unionist Party

UUP leader Steve Aiken has been an MLA since 2016, representing South Antrim. Prior to entering politics, he served as a Royal Navy Commander, as well as the Chief Executive of the British-Irish Chamber of Commerce. Ahead of becoming party leader, Mr Aiken faced criticism when he pledged the UUP would run in all 18 Northern Ireland constituencies. The party eventually stood aside in the marginal seat of North Belfast and isn't running in West Belfast.

Danny Donnelly

Danny Donnelly

Alliance Party

Danny Donnelly is an Alliance Councillor in Mid and East Antrim, representing the Larne Lough electoral area. A staff nurse, he says he is keen to grow the local economy while protecting the environment. He is a strong proponent of integrated education.

Oliver McMullan

Oliver McMullan

Sinn Fein

Oliver McMullan first entered politics in 1993 when he topped the poll in Moyle District Council as an independent. He joined Sinn Fein in 2003 and two years later became the first Sinn Fein chairman of the council. He was also the first Sinn Fein representative to sit on the NEELB. In 2011, he was elected as an MLA for East Antrim - a seat he lost to the UUP's John Stewart in 2017.

Angela Mulholland

Angela Mulholland

Social Democratic and Labour Party

SDLP candidate Angela Mulholland sits on the Causeway Coast and Glens Council, representing the Causeway electoral area. Born in Ballymoney, Angela has lived in Portstewart all her life and is currently employed within the Building Communities Resource Centre.

Philip Randle

Philip Randle

Green Party

Philip Randle is one of only three Green Party candidates in Northern Ireland after leader Clare Bailey said the party would prioritise Remain in this election. He says he is standing for the environment and social justice.

Aaron Rankin

Aaron Rankin

Conservatives

Aaron Rankin is one of four Conservative candidates in Northern Ireland. A geologist, he says he is campaigning to "Get Brexit Done".

Sammy Wilson

Sammy Wilson (Outgoing)

Democratic Unionist Party

DUP stalwart Sammy Wilson has held public office since 1981, when he was first elected to Belfast City Council on which he served until 2010. During that time, he was Lord Mayor twice. In 1998 he was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly representing East Belfast and was subsequently returned in 2003, 2007 and 2011 for the East Antrim Constituency. In 2007 Mr Wilson was appointed to serve as the Chairman of the Education Committee before becoming Environment Minister in June 2008 and, later, Finance Minister from July 2009 until August 2013. He stepped down from the Assembly in 2015. Mr Wilson has been the MP for East Antrim since 2005.


  • Awaiting Results
  • Democratic Unionist Party
  • Sinn Fein
  • Social Democratic and Labour Party
  • Alliance Party

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