Northern Ireland

General Election guide: Constituencies which might bring the drama on July 4

Find out who’s running in your constituency, the key battle grounds and top issues of this election

Voting ID provisions were rolled out at last year’s local elections
Assistance dogs are allowed inside polling stations and pet dogs can be admitted at the discretion of the local authority (Yui Mok/PA)

A total of 136 candidates are battling it out across Northern Ireland’s 18 constituencies, up from 102 at the last General Election in 2019. You can find out who is standing in your constituency using the interactive map above.

More women are also running in this election, accounting for a third of candidates, compared to only around 27% last time around.

Unlike local council and Assembly elections, the General Election will use the first-past-the-post voting system to elect Members of Parliament to the House of Commons at Westminster. Each constituency will elect one single candidate rather than multiple candidates. The candidates with the highest number of votes is elected.

The last General Election was held in December 2019 and the north’s 18 MPs were made up of eight for the DUP, seven Sinn Fein, two SDLP and one Alliance.

Seats to watch

East Belfast

Two party leaders are standing in the East Belfast constituency - Gavin Robinson of the DUP and Naomi Long of the Alliance Party.

Ms Long will challenge the DUP leader for the seat that he has held since 2015. She had served as East Belfast MP from 2010 to 2015 after historically defeating former DUP leader Peter Robinson.

At the 2019 General Election Ms Long was just under 2,000 votes behind Gavin Robinson.

Lagan Valley

Former DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson is the sitting MP in Lagan Valley. He was suspended from the party and is contesting historical sexual offences and his solicitor has confirmed he will not contest this election.

The DUP’s Jonathan Buckley is aiming to hold the seat for his party in the face of a rising Alliance Party vote and candidate Sorcha Eastwood. The race is expected to be close between the DUP and the Alliance Party.

South Antrim

Paul Girvan has held South Antrim for the DUP since 2017 but the UUP has made winning the seat back its key target of this election.

Robin Swann, an assembly member for the neighbouring North Antrim constituency, has switched constituencies to run for Westminster. He has also stepped down as Stormont health minister to focus on the campaign.

In his final day as minister Mr Swann voted against the Assembly budget on the basis that cuts would “cause real harm” to health services.


SDLP leader Colum Eastwood won the seat in 2019 by a landslide of more than 17,000 votes.

But since becoming the largest party in recent Assembly and council elections, Sinn Féin may have hopes of challenging for the seat once more.

Sinn Féin outpolled the SDLP in Foyle in the 2022 Assembly election, although constituency boundaries have since changed slightly.

Belfast South and Mid Down

The constituency previously known as Belfast South has been renamed and made larger as a result of boundary changes. It has been extended to include areas which were previously part of Lagan Valley and Strangford.

The SDLP’s Claire Hanna won Belfast South in 2019 with a 57% majority, unseating the DUP’s Emma Little-Pengelly with help from Sinn Féin and the Greens, who both stepped aside.

While Sinn Fein is not contesting this seat again, Áine Groogan is running for the Green Party.

Fermanagh and South Tyrone

This constituency is one of the most marginal seats, in 2010 the elected MP won by only four votes. In 2019 it was decided by 59 votes.

Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew has held the seat since 2001, apart from two years between 2015 and 2017 when the UUP’s Tom Elliott was the MP.

Ms Gildernew stood unsuccessfully in the recent European elections in the Republic of Ireland and Sinn Fein is running former nursing union boss Pat Cullen in Fermanagh and South Tyrone.

Only one unionist candidate is making a bid to become MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, the UUP’s Diana Armstrong.

Key issues in the 2024 General Election

There are different levels of government in Northern Ireland. This includes your local council, the Northern Ireland Assembly and the UK Parliament in Westminster and politicians working at different levels have different roles and responsibilities.

Devolution means that local politicians, instead of MPs in Westminster, make key decisions on how Northern Ireland is governed. But some powers still lie with the UK government.

Northern Ireland’s MPs can introduce their own bills and vote on others at the House of Commons, and they can also raise issues and question ministers.

When looking through manifestos and speaking to your local candidates you can ask what their position is on each of these main issues.

Future funding for the north

The recent deal that restored Stormont included a financial package for Northern Ireland including changes to our fiscal framework. However, there are widespread concerns that current funding is not enough to maintain and sustain public services.

The Stormont budget announced in April has resulted in shortfalls for all departments, with potential dire impacts for public services.

Cuts are expected to affect social housing provision, and cutbacks in healthcare could affect hospital bed numbers and care packages.

The deal also included a new ‘needs-based’ funding arranging for public services, but the Fiscal Council has warned that the agreed top-ups will not bring the north to its level of need until 2035.


Sinn Fein emerged as the largest party in Northern Ireland during the most recent Assembly election and will be hoping to repeat that result on July 4.

Sinn Fein MPs are elected on an abstentionist ticket, refusing to pledge allegiance to the British crown and take their seats in Westminster.

The Legacy Act

The Legacy Act which was opposed by all the main parties across the island of Ireland and by victims’ groups came into force in May.

Legal challenges have been launched against the legislation, including one by the Irish government at the European Court of Human Rights.

Last month Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State Hillary Benn said that if Labour forms the next government it will “repeal and replace” the act. This confirmed an earlier commitment by party leader Keir Starmer.

Fiscal devolution

While all minister agree that the current budget is not enough to maintain existing services, their options for raising funds are limited.

Stormont has minimal powers over borrowing and taxation and ministers are reluctant to use the revenue raising powers they do have.

A reform of the north’s fiscal framework could enhance the powers available to ministers in the Executive.

Irish Sea border and post-Brexit Trading arrangements

The Safeguarding the Union deal restored Stormont earlier this year and reduced some checks and paperwork on goods moving from Britain into Northern Ireland.

DUP leader Gavin Robinson has brought the Irish Sea Border back into the centre of this election campaign.

Post Brexit trading arrangements have impacted some Northern Ireland businesses, and has raised concerns that it threatens Northern Ireland’s place in the UK.

While some candidates want to revisit the arrangements cemented by the Safeguarding of the Union deal, others will want to move on from post-Brexit arrangements arguing that there are more pressing issues.