Belfast Telegraph

Belfast North

By Noel McAdam

All six outgoing Assembly members are returning to slug it out in the sectarian bear pit of north Belfast but all six will not get back.

The DUP appears on target however to get sitting MLAs Nelson McCausland, Paula Bradley and William Humphrey returned on the basis of ever-refined vote management and transfers.

The nationalist side, however, will see a battle royal between Sinn Fein’s Caral Ni Chuilin, the former Culture and Sports Minister and the SDLP’s rising star Nichola Mallon.

Her reputation along with tactical votes from Alliance and some unionists will do battle in the election count with the large surplus which Gerry Kelly will have to bolster Ni Chuilin.

The UUP candidate last May, the Rev Leslie Carroll, made relatively little impression and their standard-bearer now is the little-known Robert Foster - who has arguably not helped raise his own profile in the area after refusing to put up posters.

Progressive Unionist veteran Billy Hutchinson - a former MLA - also failed to make big inroads in the constituency and has been replaced by Oldpark councillor Julie-Anne Corr Johnston whose higher profile could bring increased success. For Alliance Nuala McAllister - due to be Belfast’s next Lord Mayor - and Fiona Ferguson of People Before Profit appear to be outside bets.

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