Constituency profile: North Antrim
This election may serve up several key battlegrounds, but North Antrim certainly isn’t one of them.
It would be one of the biggest shocks in Northern Ireland’s political history if Ian Paisley isn’t returned with another comfortable majority.
The DUP man polled just over 18,000 votes last time out — not far off matching the collective yield of all the other candidates.
The only real interest will be in whether the son of the late party leader’s 11,536 majority will take a hit due to public disaffection over the RHI scandal. The constituency has also suffered from some major factory closures in recent years. Mr Paisley did poll worse in 2015 than five years earlier, in his first election since succeeding his father, who regularly garnered more votes than all his rivals put together. If he did ship votes, it would likely be to the TUV candidate Timothy Gaston, who finished above new Ulster Unionist leader Robin Swann two years ago.
With Swann not standing in the constituency this time, Jackson Minford will fly the flag for the UUP.
Declan O’Loan will give it another try for the SDLP.
However, a notable absentee on the Sinn Fein ticket will be former MLA Daithi McKay who, courtesy of his high-profile departure from the party last year, will be commentating on the election this time, and no doubt monitoring the progress of his replacement Cara McShane.
Patricia O’Lynn is the Alliance candidate this time, taking over from Jayne Dunlop.
Timothy Gaston (TUV)
Cara McShane (Sinn Fein)
Jackson Minford (UUP)
Declan O’Loan (SDLP)
Patricia O’Lynn (Alliance Party)
Ian Paisley (DUP)