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Upper Bann Constituency Profile

The electoral cauldron of Upper Bann could prove a heady test for Northern Ireland’s raft of new party leaders.

The constituency has a track record for political upheavals - as when David, now Lord, Trimble was toppled by the DUP’s David Simpson back in the day.

But there is new blood in the contest this time, and several strong women candidates in the field.

DUP veteran Stephen Moutray is standing down, to look after his own business interests, and has been replaced on the ticket by up-and-coming councillor Carla Lockhart, who is just completing a year as president of the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA).

And Sinn Fein’s John O’Dowd’s running partner, secondary school teacher Catherine Seeley, is building on strong performances in the past.

But, depending on transfers and how the voting falls, new DUP leader Arlene Foster and new SDLP boss Colum Eastwood could lose seats here.

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And the still relatively fresh Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt could struggle to hold onto his party’s second seat because his party is running three candidates.

Equally, and a few hundred votes could end up making the difference, Sinn Fein could be within grasp of a second seat, and it could come at the expense of veteran Dolores Kelly. 

Last time round, in the Assembly battle of 2011, two Sinn Fein candidates outpolled the SDLP on the first count but the party ended up taking only one seat.

Transfers don’t come in sufficient numbers to Sinn Fein in this area, but better vote management and an increased transfer percentage could sieze the second seat for the party.

Former SDLP deputy leader Kelly knows a SF triumph would most likely end her lengthy political career.

One time UUP candidate Harry Hamilton, a Freddie Mercury impersonator, known as Flash Harry, is standing for the Alliance Party but is unlikely to take a seat in the constituency.

Smaller parties including Traditional Unionist Voice, Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol (CISTA) and the Progressive Unionist Party are also throwing their hats in the ring.

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