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Mid Ulster Constituency Profile

The Mid Ulster ballot paper is missing two of its big names this time: Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has departed the constituency he's represented since 1998 and has returned "home" to Foyle and another veteran republican, Francie Molloy, left Stormont after winning a Westminster seat last year. 

But their absence is not expected to threaten Sinn Fein's dominance of a constituency that is largely rural with significant pockets of manufacturing industry in Cookstown and Dungannon. Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill is certain to be re-elected, as is Ian Milne who was co-opted into Mr Molloy's Assembly seat. They're joined on the ballot by Councillor Linda Dillon, chair of Mid Ulster Council.

The fourth nationalist seat has been held by the SDLP since 1998, firstly by Denis Haughey, and from 2003 onwards by former deputy leader Patsy McGlone. He secured just over 5,000 votes last time and may increase his share after a high-profile run as chair of the Enterprise Committee and champion of the beleaguered manufacturing industry. And unlike 2011, he has no running mate, which should help him to get over the line.

In 1998 and 2003, the DUP topped the poll here with the popular gospel singer and Free Presbyterian minister, William McCrea. But his move to the South Antrim constituency in 2007 allowed Martin McGuinness to take the top spot. Mr McCrea's son, Ian, took his seat, but dropped nearly 500 votes between 2007 and 2011. He's in the running again, along with lesser known party colleague Keith Buchanan. The DUP has denied media reports of a split in the party's Mid Ulster camp, but the two men do not feature together on party posters, with DUP supporters urged to make their own choice on voting preferences.

The UUP is keeping its focus on Sandra Overend who took more than 15% of the vote in last year's Westminster election, increasing the party's share by 4.4%. Ms Overend is well established in the constituency - she took over the seat previously held by her father Billy Armstrong - and is expected to be returned this time.

The TUV is running a young candidate, Hannah Loughrin, and UKIP's candidate is Alan Day, who won 863 votes in last year's Westminster election. Neither is likely to pose a threat to the more established unionists here.

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Overall, Mid Ulster is on course to return, as it always has, three Sinn Fein, one SDLP, one DUP and one Ulster Unionist.


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