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North Antrim

By Noel McAdam

If the DUP takes a significant hit in this election the heartland of North Antrim where Rev Ian Paisley ruled for 30 years will be where it hurts most. Already the party has shrunk from four candidates to three.

Based on the results last May, however, Paul Frew, Phillip Logan and Mervyn Storey should have relatively little problem getting back in, even allowing for the constituency reduction from six to five seats.

But that is why, after some untypical early reluctance this time, the TUV is again running a second candidate, 28-year-old councillor Timothy Gaston, alongside leader Jim Allister. The former one-man opposition seems assured of a seat but even the fallout from the RHI scandal may not be enough to allow the party to gain a second.

On the nationalist side, the fall-out from the high profile Daithi McKay’s departure from the party is likely to impact on his replacement Philip McGuigan - with a potential uplift for SDLP candidate Connor Duncan.

The Ulster Unionists’ Robin Swann could prove vulnerable if he fails to attract DUP transfers. He took the last seat in May with less than a quota. Despite his hard-working reputation, the soft-spoken, diminutive MLA will need to attract wavering Democratic Unionist voters to have a realistic chance of holding on.

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