Constituency profile: Belfast West

22 February 2017

In the run-up to the 2017 Assembly election we are taking a detailed look at the 18 constituencies around Northern Ireland. Next up is Belfast West.

Belfast West

Belfast West is a long-time stronghold for Sinn Féin, which has secured at least four seats in every election since 1998. Between 2007 and 2016 it managed to increase its share to five seats before falling back to four last May. The SDLP’s Alex Attwood was first elected in 1998, though the second SDLP seat was surrendered five years later, and he went to the wire against DUP councillor Frank McCoubrey in 2016. People Before Profit’s (PBP) Gerry Carroll finished top of the poll then, racking up 8,299 first-preference votes. The 12 candidates standing in Belfast West on 2 March are listed below.


Attwood, Alex


Campbell, Conor

Workers Party

Carroll, Gerry


Collins, Michael


Eastwood, Sorcha


Flynn, Órlaithí

Sinn Féin

Maskey, Alex

Sinn Féin

McCann, Fra

Sinn Féin

McCoubrey, Frank


Murray, Ellen

Green Party

Rodgers, Fred


Sheehan, Pat

Sinn Féin


At a glance

  • Sinn Féin is running all four of its incumbent Stormont representatives. Rosie McCorley, the party’s fifth contestant in 2016, and a former MLA, misses out. Outgoing co-optee Órlaithí Flynn is facing the electorate for the first time after replacing Jennifer McCann last year.

  • Gerry Carroll is in again for PBP, alongside Michael Collins. It is the first time that PBP has fielded two candidates here.

  • The UUP replaces Gareth Martin with Fred Rodgers, whilst Alliance has substituted Sorcha Eastwood for Jemima Higgins.

  • The Workers Party, Green Party, SDLP and DUP are all running the same candidates as in 2016.



PBP topped the poll here in 2016 and must be confident of seeing Gerry Carroll returned at least. For its part, Sinn Féin will expect to gain at least three seats. That leaves one place likely to be contested by the DUP, PBP, SDLP and Sinn Féin.

As ever, vote management and transfers will be key to determining the winner of the fifth seat. Is PBP’s Brexit position going to impact its vote in a constituency which saw 74.1 per cent opt to remain? Can Alex Attwood scrape enough transfers to keep him in the game? Or will Sinn Féin’s tried and tested vote management succeed? This is another one to watch.