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Assembly Election

South Antrim: Only slight turbulence expected ahead in airport constituency

Belfast International Airport is within the South Antrim constituency. Picture by Arthur Allison, Pacemaker

RATHER like the regular flights into Belfast International Airport, the fight for South Antrim is expected to prove fairly uneventful, bar some slight turbulence.

The constituency takes in the international airport just outside Crumlin, as well as several small towns including Randalstown, Doagh and Ballyclare.

Although the area is perceived as generally rural, suburban areas are thriving, partly due to the large number of Belfast commuters.

A predominantly unionist constituency, changes to the boundary in 2010 increased the number of Protestant voters by around 2.3 per cent.

However, the area does also have a large group of Alliance supporters - evidenced by continuing strong support for South Antrim MLA and Alliance leader David Ford.

Although the DUP will be hoping that Arlene Foster's leadership will attract more moderate unionists, Ulster Unionist Danny Kinahan's capture of the Westminster seat from William McCrea last year means that the DUP may be vulnerable.

The DUP's Paul Girvan seems a shoo-in for the first seat.

Equally Trevor Clarke, who has served two assembly terms as a DUP representative, should be re-elected.

But DUP MLA Pam Cameron, who won her seat from the SDLP's Thomas Burns in the 2011 election, may be in trouble.

Ulster Unionist Adrian Cochrane-Watson, who was co-opted as an MLA after Mr Kinahan won the Westminster seat, is widely expected to be re-elected.

His party is running two other candidates, Steve Aiken - a former naval nuclear submarine commander - and Paul Michael - a former army reservist.

Although it is highly unlikely the UUP can take a total of three seats it may be able to take one extra.

The SDLP will be hoping businesswoman Roisin Lynch can build on her general election campaign. The mother-of-seven, an active GAA member and fundraiser, won a respectable 8.2 per cent of the vote in the 2015 Westminster election.

However some nationalist voters may choose to throw their weight behind Sinn Féin's Declan Kearney who looks certain to take the seat vacated by the retirement of his party colleague, ex-assembly speaker Mitchel McLaughlin.

Kearney, Sinn Féin's national chairman, has become one of his party's best-known figures over the last few years.

A cousin of Peadar Heffron, the PSNI officer who lost a leg in a dissident booby-trap car bomb in 2010, he has been heavily involved in discussions about the legacy of the Troubles and reconciliation.

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  • 2011 share of first preference vote

DUP 38.3 per cent

UUP 17.8 per cent

SF 14.5 per cent

All 14.2 per cent

SDLP 10.6 per cent

TUV 3.4 per cent

Others 1.3 per cent

  • Seats won by party in 2011

DUP 3 seats

SF 1 seat

All 1 seat

UUP 1 seat

  • List of 2016 candidates

Steve Aiken (UUP)

Richard Cairns (TUV)

Pam Cameron (DUP)

Trevor Clarke (DUP)

Adrian Cochrane-Watson (UUP)

Helen Farley (Green)

David Ford (All)

Paul Girvan (DUP)

Robert Hill (Ukip)

Declan Kearney (SF)

Roisin Lynch (SDLP)

David McMaster (Ind)

Paul Michael (UUP)

David Young (Conservative)

Assembly Election
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