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Mid Ulster (constituency)
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Mid Ulster (constituency)

Mid Ulster is a Parliamentary Constituency in the House of Commons and also an Assembly constituency in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Table of contents
1 Boundaries
2 Westminster elections
3 Assemblies and Forum elections
4 Politics and History of the constituency

Boundaries

The seat was created in 1950 when the old Fermanagh & Tyrone; two MP constituency was abolished as part of the final move to single member seats. Originally the seat consisted of the northern, eastern and western parts of County Tyrone, with the south included in Fermanagh & South Tyrone;. Of the post 1973 districts, it contained all of Omagh and Cookstown and part of Strabane and Magherafelt.

In boundary changes proposed by a review in 1995, the seat was split in two, with the name retained by the eastern half, even though it contained only 30% of the old seat. The western half became the nucleus of the new West Tyrone constituency. The new Mid Ulster also gained areas from Foyle and Fermanagh & South Tyrone;.

The seat now contains the entirity of the districts of Magherafelt and Cookstown and part of the district of Dungannon and South Tyrone.

At the time of writing the Boundary Commission has proposed alterations to the Northern Ireland constituencies, however no changes are proposed for Mid Ulster.

Westminster elections

The Member of Parliament since the 1997 general election is Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein. Between 1983 and 2001 the MP was William McCrea of the Democratic Unionist Party.

MPs since 1950

Assemblies and Forum elections

The six MLAs for the consituency elected in the 2003 election are:

In the 1998 election the six MLAs elected were:

In the 1996 election to the Northern Ireland Peace Forum, 5 Forum members were elected from Mid Ulster. They were as follows:

In 1982 elections were held for an Assembly for Northern Ireland to hold the Secretary of State to account, in the hope that this would be the first step towards restoring devolution. Mid Ulster elected 6 members as follows:

In 1975 elections were held to a Constitutional Convention which sought (unsuccessfully) to generate a consensus on the future of the province. The six members elected from Mid Ulster were:

In 1973 elections were held to the Assembly set up under the Sunningdale Agreement. The six members elected from Mid Ulster were:

Politics and History of the constituency

For the history of the constituency prior to 1950, see Fermanagh & Tyrone (constituency);.

In both its incarnations Mid Ulster has seen a precarious balance between Unionist and Nationalist voters, though in recent years the Nationalists have advanced significantly to be in a clear majority. Many elections have seen a candidate from one community triumph due to candidates from the other community splitting the vote.

The seat was initially won by the Irish Nationalist Party in 1950 and 1951 then by Sinn Fein in 1955. However the Sinn Fein MP was unseated on petition on the basis that his terrorist convictions made him ineligible, and the seat was granted to the Ulster Unionist candidate.

In a by-election in 1969 the seat was won by Bernadette Devlin standing as an independent socialist nationalist on the "Unity" ticket which sought to unite nationalist voters behind a single candidate. At the age of 21, Devlin was the youngest person ever elected to the House of Commons in the era of universal suffrage. She held her seat in the 1970 but generated controversy when she had a child out of wedlock as well as for her fierce anti-clericalism. This may have contributed to the Social Democratic and Labour Party standing a candidate against her in the February 1974 general election and the nationalist vote was strongly divided, allowing John Dunlop of the Vanguard Progressive Unionist Party to win with the support of the Ulster Unionist Party and the Democratic Unionist Party.

Dunlop held his seat for the next nine years, though in 1977 he was part of a large section of Vanguard that broke away to form the short lived United Ulster Unionist Party. He held his seat in 1979 only due to a Unionist pact, but by 1983 the UUUP was wound up and he did not stand again.

The 1983 general election saw fierce contest for the seat, with the Ulster Unionist Party, Democratic Unionist Party, Social Democratic and Labour Party and Sinn Fein all polling strongly. The winners was the DUP's William McCrea, albeit by the narrow majority of just 78 over Sinn Fein. In subsequent general elections the Ulster Unionists did not contest the seat.

Following the boundary changes, McCrea contested the new Mid Ulster in 1997 but by now Sinn Fein had established itself as the best party to outpoll a Unionist and so drew votes from the SDLP, resulting in Martin McGuinness winning. He has held the seat to date with the Sinn Fein vote increasingly substantially in all elections.