North Antrim: TUV to take on DUP for hearts and minds of unionist vote
THE mainly rural North Antrim, that takes in some of Northern Ireland's most popular, picturesque tourists towns and attractions, is regarded as one of the more stable constituencies.
This unionist heartland is historically Paisley territory, and as such the DUP currently holds three of the six seats and that's likely to remain the case after the May elections.
Job creation is likely to be one of the big issues on the doorsteps with recent job cut announcements in both JTI Gallagher and Michelin in Ballymena.
However away from the bread and butter issues much of the focus will be on the personalities, with a particular focus on the battle between Jim Allister and the DUP for the hearts and minds of the unionist vote.
The TUV leader has been snapping at the DUP from Stormont's backbenches and causing a bit of annoyance to the party he quit in 2007 over their power-sharing arrangement with Sinn Féin.
This constituency was a battleground in the 2011 assembly election as Allister - bruised from his performance in the 2010 General Election - came back fighting with a respectable 10 percent of the vote.
The TUV took a seat at the expense of the SDLP’s Declan O’Loan, a loss the party is unlikely to recover from.
Jim Allister has proved popular with hard-liners, his image as a one man opposition in the assembly will do him no harm at all when dealing with unionist discord on the doorsteps.
Sinn Féin MLA Daíthí McKay now holds the only nationalist seat in the constituency. His high profile and general likeability means only a disaster of epic proportions could take it from him and he should be returned comfortably.
The DUP optimistically ran four candidates in 2011. However, only the three MLAs who were office last time around will be contesting May's election again.
Mervyn Storey heads into this election on a high with a ministerial portfolio.
The Ulster Unionists are running two candidates but with careful vote management, Robin Swann should hold his own.
It is unlikely that any seats will change hands and all six sitting MLAs are expected to be returned, making it, not the most scrappy of constituencies but given the DUP and TUV will be trying to out-flag each other at the count, should be entertaining all the same.
- 2011 share of first preference vote
- Seats won by party in 2011
- List of 2016 candidates
Jim Allister (TUV)
Donna Anderson Donna (UKIP)
Jennifer Breslin Jennifer (Green Party)
Connor Duncan (SDLP)
Paul Frew (DUP)
Timothy Gaston (TUV)
Kathryn Johnston - NI Labour Representation Committee
Phillip Logan - (DUP)
Stephen McFarland (All)
David McIlveen - DUP
Daithí Gerard McKay (Sinn Féin)
James Simpson (Conservatives)
Mervyn Storey (DUP)
Robin Swann (UUP)
Andrew Wright (UUP)