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Constituency profile: Upper Bann

Taking in Portadown, Lurgan and Banbridge, Upper Bann has previously shown a solid backing for both main unionist parties and Sinn Fein, with comfortable seats for two DUP candidates, one UUP and one Sinn Fein in 2017.

Perhaps most at risk, having taken six counts to make it across the line last time, is the SDLP’s Dolores Kelly.

The leading DUP candidate five years ago was Carla Lockhart, who has now moved on to take the party’s Westminster seat in place of David Simpson.

Though a Banbridge resident for over 30 years, it will be a challenge for Diane Dodds to match her poll result after being co-opted into the seat to replace her, despite being one of the party’s biggest hitters.

The constituency will also be a major marker for UUP leader Doug Beattie, taking his new-look party into elections for the first time. Beattie has already faced hostility from within unionism over his stance in no longer attending rallies against the NI Protocol.

He’s had his office window attacked and a poster defaced at a rally in Lurgan, depicting his image with a noose around his neck, and been branded a “traitor” by more extreme loyalist elements. So unionist tensions are high.

Alliance hopeful Eoin Tennyson will be looking for that unionist disunity to allow him to sneak through with a fractured vote across the three parties, with the TUV heavily involved in the anti-Protocol rallies in the area, while Mrs Kelly should pick up plenty of spillovers from John O’Dowd’s solid Sinn Fein vote.

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But even the issues over the Protocol are paling in comparison to the issues on the doorsteps. Home to Craigavon Area Hospital, the pressures on the health service are a big concern for the high number of NHS employees in this constituency. UUP Robin Swann’s tenure as Health Minister could shore up the Beattie vote.

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