Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 29 March 2015

Constituency profile: East Antrim

The DUP is facing major battles in constituencies bordering East Antrim.

But with one of its political heavyweights in the race for this piece of the coastline the party is confident of retaining the seat.

Boundary changes see mainly nationalist rural wards of Glenaan, Glenariff and Glendun vote in East Antrim for the first time. Turnout is traditionally low.

Who starts ahead?

With a Protestant majority of 79%, the constituency is a unionist stronghold and the DUP’s Sammy Wilson is odds on to retain the seat he won in 2005 from UUP man Roy Beggs, who had held the seat since 1983. He polled 15,766 votes, 46.9% share of the vote, an 11.5% swing and won the seat by 7,304 votes.

The word on the streets?

East Antrim is viewed as a very safe seat for the DUP.

The TUV enjoys pockets of support in hardline areas and will be hoping to attract disaffected DUP voters.

Sinn Fein’s Oliver McMullan will be hoping his reputation in the rural north coast wards will help him improve on James McKeown’s 828 votes in 2005.

Rodney McCune will want to reclaim lost ground for the UUP with the Tory tie-up.

The SDLP held an East Antrim Assembly seat in the past and a boost in this election would raise hopes for next year’s Stormont poll.

Key employers like FG Wilson and Nortel have shed hundreds of jobs and unemployment is up by about 52%.

Other concerns include stalled plans to dual the A2 road between Larne and Belfast and the sub standard rail network serving the area.

For rural constituents poor ambulance cover is an issue.

And the nominations are:

DUP — Sammy Wilson

UCUNF – Rodney McCune SDLP — Justin McCamphill Alliance — Gerry Lynch

TUV — Sammy Morrison

SF — Oliver McMullan

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