Constituency Profile: North Down
The Ulster Unionists appear to keep falling over themselves to keep Lady Hermon in power — and so the general election seems set to prove again.
Former leader Mike Nesbitt described her as “an Ulster Unionist in spirit” — though she shows no sign whatsoever of returning to the party.
Last time round a UUP candidate, Carl McClean, was selected and then withdrawn at the eleventh hour.
This time Alan Chambers was announced as the UUP standard-bearer only for the plug to be pulled again.
UUP leader Robin Swann spoke about “Sylvia’s previous links to the party”, and North Down being “unique”.
It is just as likely that the UUP did not want the embarrassment of being defeated by a former colleague and decided it might as well save the money.
North Down has long had an independent streak — Lady Hermon defeated former UK Unionist leader Bob McCartney, who had himself replaced the late Sir James Kilfedder, the leader of the former Ulster Popular Unionist Party, who held the seat since the 1970s.
Lady Hermon goes into this latest fight with a 9,000-plus majority, leaving DUP veteran Alex Easton with too high a hill to climb.
Former North Down mayor Andrew Muir is running for Alliance along with Steven Agnew from the Greens and the Conservative Party’s Frank Shivers.
Gavan Reynolds is also upholding the independent tradition in the constituency.
Steven Agnew, Green Party
Alex Easton, DUP
Lady Sylvia Hermon, Independent
Therese McCartney, Sinn Fein
Caoimhe McNeill, SDLP
Andrew Muir, Alliance
Gavan Reynolds, Independent
Frank Shivers, Conservative