Belfast Telegraph

East Belfast seat: Can the DUP win it back?

We look at the seat at the centre of fascinating general election battle

By Mike Gilson

East Belfast was the scene of one of the greatest election upsets in Northern Ireland's history in 2010 as Alliance's Naomi Long ousted DUP leader Peter Robinson.

Since that day the constituency has rarely been far from the news headlines. The battle for power has been one of the fiercest in Northern Ireland and in May it will be the result many people look to first.

In the last four years East Belfast has been the crucible for many hot political issues of our day.

Many of its residents led the protests at the decision to cease flying the Union flag at Belfast City hall for 365 days of the year.

It has been at the centre of concerns that the Protestant working class has missed out on the peace dividend.

The battle to win hearts and minds there has meant the issues arising have entered the main body politic as the ruling party, the DUP, find ways to respond to the loss of one of its heartlands. That means what happened in the East affects us all.

And yet the constituency is a place of many contradictions where rich and poor, Protestant and Catholic, live cheek by jowl. Rich in history and culture, it is also said to be a place that has struggled to capture the glory days associated with the shipyard.

So all next week the Belfast Telegraph is focusing on this key battleground of the general election. We'll be looking at the issues at stake, talking to people on the ground, and, crucially, publishing an exclusive opinion poll on which way the seat might go.

Join us for East next week. It won't just interest the people that live there.

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