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Fermanagh and South Tyrone (UK Parliament constituency)

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Fermanagh and South Tyrone (UK Parliament constituency)

Fermanagh and South Tyrone
County constituency
for the House of Commons
Outline map
Boundary of Fermanagh and South Tyrone in Northern Ireland.
Districts of Northern Ireland Fermanagh, Dungannon and South Tyrone
Electorate 69,413 (March 2011)
Current constituency
Created 1950
Member of Parliament Michelle Gildernew (Sinn Féin)
Number of members One
Created from Fermanagh and Tyrone
European Parliament constituency Northern Ireland

Fermanagh and South Tyrone is a parliamentary constituency in the British House of Commons. The current MP for the constituency is Michelle Gildernew of Sinn Féin.[1]

It is the most marginal seat in the 2010 UK Parliament, with Gildernew having obtained a majority of just 4 votes, or less than 0.01% of the turnout.


1983-1997: The District of Fermanagh; and the District of Dungannon.

1997-present: The District of Fermanagh; and the District of Dungannon wards of Augher, Aughnacloy, Ballygawley, Ballysaggart, Benburb, Caledon, Castlecaulfield, Clogher, Coolhill, Drumglass, Fivemiletown, Killyman, Killymeal, Moy, Moygashel, and Mullaghmore.

The seat was created in 1950 when the old Fermanagh and Tyrone two-member constituency was abolished as part of the final move to single-member seats. As the name implies, the seat includes all of County Fermanagh and the southern part of County Tyrone. Of the post-1973 districts, it initially contained all of Fermanagh, and Dungannon and South Tyrone. In boundary changes resulting from a review in 1995, however, a section of Dungannon and South Tyrone (then simply called Dungannon) district around the town of Coalisland was transferred to the Mid Ulster constituency.


For the history of the constituency prior to 1950, see Fermanagh and Tyrone

Throughout its history, Fermanagh and South Tyrone has seen a precarious balance between unionist and nationalist voters, though in recent years the nationalists have had a slight majority. Many elections have seen a candidate from one community triumph due to multiple candidates from the other community splitting the vote.

Perhaps because of this balance between the communities, Fermanagh and South Tyrone has repeatedly had the highest turn-out of any constituency in Northern Ireland.

The seat was initially won by the Nationalist Party in 1950 and 1951, the closely contested 1951 election seeing a 93.4% turnout – a UK record for any election.

In 1955, the constituency was won by Philip Clarke of Sinn Féin, but he was unseated on petition on the basis that his criminal conviction (for IRA activity) made him ineligible. Instead, the seat was awarded to the Unionist candidate.

In 1970, the seat was won by Frank McManus standing on the "Unity" ticket which sought to unite nationalist voters behind a single candidate. In the February 1974 general election, however, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) contested the seat, dividing the nationalist vote and allowing Harry West of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) to win with the support of the Vanguard Progressive Unionist Party and the Democratic Unionist Party.

In the October 1974 general election a nationalist pact was agreed and Frank Maguire won, standing as an Independent Republican. He retained his seat in the 1979 general election, when both the unionist and nationalist votes were split, the former by the intervention of Ernest Baird, leader of the short-lived United Ulster Unionist Party, and the latter by Austin Currie, who defied the official SDLP decision to not contest the seat. Maguire died in early 1981.

The ensuing by-election took place amidst the 1981 Irish Hunger Strike and was one of the most important by-elections in modern Irish history. As part of the campaign for the five demands, the Provisional Irish Republican Army officer commanding in the Maze prison, Bobby Sands, was nominated as an Anti-H-Block/Armagh Political Prisoner candidate. Harry West stood for the Ulster Unionist Party but no other candidates contested the by-election. On 9 April 1981, Sands won with 30,492 votes against 29,046 for West. 26 days later Sands died on hunger strike. Speedy legislation barred prisoners serving 12 months or longer from standing for Parliament, and so in the new by-election Sands' agent Owen Carron stood as a "Proxy Political Prisoner". The UUP nominated Ken Maginnis. The second by-election in August was also contested by the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, the Workers' Party Republican Clubs, a candidate standing on a label of General Amnesty and another as The Peace Lover. The turn-out was even higher, with most of the additional votes going to the additional parties standing, and Carron was elected. In the 1982 elections for the Northern Ireland Assembly, Carron headed up the Sinn Féin slate for the constituency and was elected.

Republicans suffered a reversal in the 1983 general election, when the SDLP contested the seat. Maginnis won and held the seat for the UUP for the next eighteen years until he retired. By this point boundary changes had resulted in a broad 50:50 balance between unionists and nationalists and it was expected that a single unionist candidate would hold the seat in the 2001 general election. James Cooper was nominated by the UUP. On this occasion, however, it was the unionist vote that was to be split. Initially Maurice Morrow of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) was nominated to stand, with the DUP fiercely opposing the UUP's support for the Good Friday Agreement. Morrow, then withdrew in favour of Jim Dixon, a survivor of the Enniskillen bombing who stood as an Independent Unionist opposed to the Agreement. Dixon polled 6,843 votes, 6,790 in excess of the 53 vote lead that Sinn Féin's Michelle Gildernew had over Cooper. Subsequently, the result was challenged amid allegations that a polling station had been kept open by force for longer than the deadline, allowing more people to vote, but the courts – while conceding that this happened, did not uphold the challenge because it held that the votes cast after the legal closing time would not have affected the outcome.[2]

Ahead of the 2005 general election, there was speculation that a single unionist candidate could retake the seat. The UUP and DUP, however, ran opposing candidates and in the event Gildernew held her seat. She kept the seat in 2010 by four votes over the Unionist candidate, Rodney Connor.[1] Following the election, Connor lodged an election petition challenging the result based on a dispute about differences in the number of ballot papers recorded at polling stations and those subsequently recorded at the count centre.[3] The petition was rejected after it was found that only three extra votes remained unnaccounted for. The judge ruled that "even if those votes were introduced in breach of the rules and if they had all been counted in favour of the first respondent their exclusion would still have given the first respondent (Ms Gildernew) a majority of one vote and the result would not have been affected."[4]

Members of Parliament

The Member of Parliament since the 2001 general election is Michelle Gildernew of Sinn Féin. Between 1983 and 2001 the MP was Ken Maginnis of the UUP who retired at that election.

Constituency created (1950)
1950 Cahir Healy Nationalist
1955 Philip Christopher Clarke Sinn Féin – subsequently unseated on petition
1955 Lord Robert Grosvenor UUP
1964 James Hamilton, Marquess of Hamilton UUP
1970 Frank McManus Unity
February 1974 Harry West UUP
October 1974 Frank Maguire Independent Republican
April 1981 by-election Bobby Sands Anti H-Block
August 1981 by-election Owen Carron Anti H-Block
1982 Sinn Féin
1983 Ken Maginnis UUP
2001 Michelle Gildernew Sinn Féin


Elections in the 2010s

General Election 2010: Fermanagh and South Tyrone[5][6]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Sinn Féin Michelle Gildernew 21,304 45.5 +7.3
Independent Rodney Connor 21,300 45.5 N/A
SDLP Fearghal McKinney 3,574 7.6 −7.2
Alliance Vasundhara Kamble 437 0.9 N/A
Independent John Stevenson 188 0.4 N/A
Majority 4 0.0 −9.4
Turnout 46,803 68.9 −6.9
Sinn Féin hold Swing

Rodney Connor had the support of the Democratic Unionist Party and Ulster Conservatives and Unionists - New Force[7] Following the close result Connor lodged a petition against Gildernew alleging irregularities in the counting of the votes had affected the result. However the Court found that there were only three ballot papers which could not be accounted for, and even if they were all votes for Connor, Gildernew would have had a plurality of one. The election was therefore upheld.[8]

Elections in the 2000s

General Election 2005: Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Sinn Féin Michelle Gildernew 18,638 38.2 +4.1
DUP Arlene Foster 14,056 28.8 N/A
UUP Tom Elliott 8,869 18.2 −15.8
SDLP Tommy Gallagher 7,230 14.8 −3.9
Majority 4,582 9.4
Turnout 48,793 72.6 −5.4
Sinn Féin hold Swing
General Election 2001: Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Sinn Féin Michelle Gildernew 17,739 34.1 +11.0
UUP James Leslie Cooper 17,686 34.0 −17.5
SDLP Tommy Gallagher 9,706 18.7 −4.2
Independent William James Dixon 6,843 13.2 N/A
Majority 53 0.1
Turnout 51,974 78.0 +3.2
Sinn Féin gain from UUP Swing

Elections in the 1990s

General Election 1997: Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Ken Maginnis 24,862 51.5 −1.0
Sinn Féin Gerry McHugh 11,174 23.1 +4.0
SDLP Tommy Gallagher 11,060 22.9 +0.0
Alliance Stephen Farry 977 2.0 +0.0
Natural Law Simeon Gillan 217 0.4 N/A
Majority 13,688
Turnout 74.8
UUP hold Swing
Boundary changes took effect from the 1997 general election. The projections of what the 1992 result would have been if fought on 1997 boundaries are shown below.[9]
Notional 1992 UK General Election Result : Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP N/A 25,740 52.5 N/A
SDLP N/A 10,982 22.9 N/A
Sinn Féin N/A 9,143 19.1 N/A
Others N/A 1,841 3.8 N/A
Alliance N/A 950 2.0 N/A
Majority 14,089 29.4 N/A
General Election 1992: Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Ken Maginnis 26,923 48.8
SDLP Tommy Gallagher 12,810 23.2
Sinn Féin Francie Molloy 12,604 22.9
Independent Progressive Socialist David Kettyles 1,094 2.0
Alliance Eric Bullick 950 1.7
New Agenda Gerry Cullen 747 1.4
Majority 14,113 25.6
Turnout 78.5
UUP hold Swing

Elections in the 1980s

General Election 1987: Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Ken Maginnis 27,446 49.6
Sinn Féin Paul Corrigan 14,623 26.4
SDLP Rosemary Flanagan 10,581 19.1
Workers' Party David Kettyles 1,784 3.2
Alliance John Haslett 950 1.7
Majority 12,823 23.2
Turnout 80.3
UUP hold Swing
Fermanagh and South Tyrone by-election, 1986
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Ken Maginnis 27,857
Sinn Féin Owen Carron 15,278
SDLP Austin Currie 12,081
Workers' Party David Kettyles 864
Majority 12,579
UUP hold Swing
General Election 1983: Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Ken Maginnis 28,630 47.6
Sinn Féin Owen Carron 20,954 34.8
SDLP Rosemary Flanagan 9,923 16.5
Workers' Party David Kettyles 649 1.1
Majority 7,676 12.8
Turnout 88.6
UUP gain from Anti H-Block Swing
Minor boundary changes took effect from the 1983 general election.
By-election, August 1981: Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Anti H-Block Owen Carron 31,278 49.1 −3.1
UUP Ken Maginnis 29,048 45.6 −4.2
Alliance Seamus Close 1,930 3.0 N/A
Republican Clubs Tom Moore 1,132 1.8 N/A
General Amnesty Martin Green 249 0.4 N/A
The Peace Lover Simon Hall-Raleigh 90 0.1 N/A
Majority 2,230
Turnout 88.6 1.7
Anti H-Block hold Swing
By-election, April 1981: Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Anti H-Block Bobby Sands 30,493 51.2 N/A
UUP Harry West 29,046 48.8 +20.8
Majority 1,447 2.4 N/A
Turnout 59,538 86.9 −0.2
Anti H-Block gain from Independent Republican Swing N/A

Elections in the 1970s

General Election 1979: Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Independent Republican Frank Maguire 22,398 36.0 −15.8
UUP Raymond Ferguson 17,411 28.0 −19.9
Independent SDLP Austin Currie 10,785 17.3 N/A
UUUP Ernest Baird 10,607 17.0 N/A
Alliance Peter Acheson 1,070 1.7 N/A
Majority 4,987 8.0 +4.0
Turnout 62,271 87.1 −1.6
Independent Republican hold Swing
General Election October 1974: Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Independent Republican Frank Maguire 32,795 51.8 N/A
UUP Harry West 30,285 47.9 +4.3
Marxist-Leninist (Ireland) Alan Evans 185 0.3 N/A
Majority 2,510 4.0 −13.2
Turnout 63,265 88.7 +0.3
Independent Republican gain from UUP Swing N/A
General Election February 1974: Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Harry West 26,858 43.6 −5.3
Unity Frank McManus 16,229 26.3 −24.8
SDLP Denis Haughey 15,410 25.0 N/A
Pro-Assembly Unionist Hubert Brown 3,157 5.1 N/A
Majority 10,629 17.2 +14.9
Turnout 61,654 88.4 −3.7
UUP gain from Unity Swing
General Election 1970: Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Unity Frank McManus 32,837 51.1 +24.2
UUP James Hamilton 31,390 48.9 −5.1
Majority 1,447 2.3 −24.8
Turnout 64,227 92.1 +6.1
Unity gain from UUP Swing

Elections in the 1960s

General Election 1966: Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP James, Marquess of Hamilton 29,352 54.0 −1.1
Unity James J. Donnelly 14,645 26.9 N/A
Independent Republican Ruairí Ó Brádaigh 10,370 19.1 N/A
Majority 14,707 27.1 +1.6
Turnout 54,367 86.0 +0.4
UUP hold Swing
General Election 1964: Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP James Hamilton 30,010 55.1 −26.3
Independent Republican Aloysius Mulloy 16,138 29.6 N/A
Liberal Giles FitzHerbert 6,006 11.0 N/A
Labour (NI) Baptist W. Gamble 2,339 4.3 N/A
Majority 13,872 25.5 −37.2
Turnout 54,493 85.9 +24.3
UUP hold Swing N/A

Elections in the 1950s

General Election 1959: Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Lord Robert Grosvenor 32,080 81.4 +31.6
Sinn Féin James Martin 7,348 18.6 −31.6
Majority 24,732 62.7 +62.3
Turnout 39,428 61.6 −31.0
UUP hold Swing
General Election 1955: Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Sinn Féin Philip Clarke 30,529 50.2 N/A
UUP Lord Robert Grosvenor 30,268 49.8 +0.9
Majority 261 0.4 −3.8
Turnout 60,797 92.6 −0.8
Sinn Féin gain from Irish Nationalist Swing N/A
After the election, Philip Clarke was found ineligible by an election court, and Lord Robert Grosvenor was declared elected in his place.
General Election 1951: Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Nationalist Cahir Healy 32,717 52.1 +0.2
UUP Frederick Patterson 30,268 47.9 −0.2
Majority 2,635 4.2 +0.4
Turnout 62,985 93.4 +1.3
Nationalist hold Swing
General Election 1950: Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Nationalist Cahir Healy 32,188 51.9 N/A
UUP Henry Richardson 29,877 48.1 N/A
Majority 2,311 3.8 N/A
Turnout 62,065 92.1 N/A
Nationalist win (new seat)

See also


  1. ^ a b "SF's Gildernew retains her seat". BBC News. 7 May 2010. 
  2. ^ Court told of UUP claim of polling irregularities The Free Library, 18 September 2001
  3. ^ "Unionists launch election challenge, Belfast Newsletter, 28 May 2010, accessed 29 May 2010". Retrieved 9 August 2010. 
  4. ^ "Fermanagh/South Tyrone election result challenge fails". BBC News. 22 October 2010. 
  5. ^ Statement of Persons Nominated Electoral Office for Northern Ireland
  6. ^ "BBC NEWS – Election 2010 – Fermanagh & South Tyrone". BBC News. 
  7. ^ "Unionist 'unity' candidate agreed". BBC News. 9 April 2010. 
  8. ^ "Unionist dismay as election case falters". News Letter. 23 October 2010. Retrieved 15 May 2014. 
  9. ^ General Election 1997 – Fermanagh and South Tyrone BBC News

Further reading

External links

  • Guardian Unlimited Politics (Election results from 1992 to the present)
  • Political Science Resources (Election results from 1951 to the present)
  • Fermanagh and South Tyrone ARK – Access Research Knowledge – (Election results 1983 – 1992)
  • Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "F"
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