What’s the story?
Boundary changes make it almost impossible for Sinn Fein to hold on, or for the SDLP to regain its foothold, but Alliance should be able to retain its seat. It was also here where Jim Allister’s Traditional Unionist Voice won the vote which put them on the map.
Runners and riders
In the biggest single shake-up from the last boundaries reshuffle, parts of the former constituency have been shifted, resulting in a dramatic drop in nationalist numbers.
Lagan Valley is now a DUP stronghold. It was here in the 2003 Assembly election that the UUP took three seats, then within weeks three candidates resigned to join the DUP.
The DUP is running four candidates, confident all four can be elected, while the UUP is running only two.
TUV candidate Lyle Rea, a former UUP chief executive, seems unlikely to achieve a breakthrough. Edwin Poots is the best-known DUP standard-bearer, but Jonathan Craig also has a strong base as a councillor. Paul Givan was co-opted to stand in for Jeffrey Donaldson and the party has brought in Brenda Hale, a widow whose soldier husband died in Afghanistan.
Defeated candidate for the UUP leadership, Basil McCrea, appears most likely to retain his seat but his running partner, Mark Hill (26), one of the UUP’s new youth brigade, could struggle.
On the nationalist side, another outgoing MLA is missing from the ballot paper — Sinn Fein’s Paul Butler, who has been replaced with 23-year-old Mary-Kate Quinn.
Pat Catney, a well-known local publican, is flying the flag for the SDLP but is likely to lose to sitting Alliance tenant Trevor Lunn. Conor Quinn is running for the Greens.
While some seats may be under pressure elsewhere, the DUP has a good chance of stretching to fill four of the six seats, though in the sixth seat dogfight a solid performance could see the UUP gain a place. Alliance should hold its seat.
OUTGOING ASSEMBLY MEMBERS (Asterisk denotes they are running again)
Jeffrey Donaldson (DUP)
Paul Butler (SF)
*Basil McCrea (UUP)
*Trevor Lunn (APNI)
*Jonathan Craig (DUP)
*Edwin Poots (DUP)
2010 Share of the vote compared to 2007
DUP 49.8 % (52.3%)
UUP 21.1 % (20.3 %)
Oth U 8.6 % (2.2 %)
Alliance 11.4 % (10.3 %)
SDLP 5 % (4%)
SF 4 % (7.2 %)