East Belfast looks set to be the starkest showdown between the DUP and Alliance Party in Northern Ireland this election.
The constituency saw one of the most spectacular electoral bloody noses in 2010 when Naomi Long won the Westminster seat from sitting MP and then DUP leader Peter Robinson. The battle over it in 2015 turned vicious between the two parties before the DUP’s Gavin Robinson narrowly triumphed.
With the reduction in Assembly seats from six to five, both the DUP and Alliance will be anxious to retain their three, and two seats respectively.
At last year’s Assembly poll the Alliance Party’s Chris Lyttle was last across the line, however this year the party is running just two candidates and will hope party leader Naomi Long can maximise on the DUP’s discomfort over the cash-for-ash scandal to bring her running mate across the line.
In terms of the DUP, veteran MLA Robin Newton appears to be the most vulnerable of their three as the last to be returned last year, a long way behind poll-topping Joanne Bunting. The replacement of Sammy Douglas with his son David is the only change to their line-up.
The UUP’s Andy Allen will be hoping that his leader Mike Nesbitt’s controversial advice to transfer to their Opposition partners the SDLP will not harm his chance of transfers from the DUP bringing him back to Stormont.
This constituency is also the PUP’s best chance of returning to the Assembly, however with John Kyle last year trailing in ninth after the third Alliance candidate Tim Morrow, and the Green Party, their quest has become an even taller order.
Belfast Telegraph Digital