People Before Profit Alliance
|Headquarters||4 Meadow View,
Sarsfield Road, Dublin 10
|Political position||Left-wing to Far-left|
|National affiliation||United Left Alliance (pre-2013)
Anti-Austerity Alliance–People Before Profit(2015–present)
|European affiliation||European Anti-Capitalist Left|
|Colours||Maroon & Green|
3 / 158
|Northern Ireland Assembly||
2 / 108
|Local government in the Republic of Ireland||
14 / 949
|Local Government (NI)||
1 / 462
The PBPA was established by the Socialist Workers Party. The Community & Workers Action Group of south Dublin (CWAG) joined the Alliance in 2007 and brought along the party’s first elected representative, Joan Collins, an anti–bin tax campaigner and former member of the Socialist Party.
Republic of Ireland
The Alliance contested several constituencies in the 2007 general election, polling around 9,000 first preferences, with Richard Boyd Barrett—the candidate in the Dun Laoghaire constituency—missing a seat on the 10th and final count by 7,890 votes to 9,910.
In the Republic’s 2009 local elections the Alliance ran twelve candidates, including ten in County Dublin. The Alliance secured five seats in three of Dublin’s four councils. As well as ten members of the SWP, the Alliance ranJoan Collins and Pat Dunne of the CWAG in Dublin, and Donnie Fell (a former Waterford Crystal worker and trade union representative) in Waterford.
In the Republic’s 2011 general election, both Richard Boyd Barrett and Joan Collins were elected to Dáil Éireann as TDs (deputies), running under a joint People Before Profit and United Left Alliance banner. The average expenses claim by a People Before Profit Alliance TD between the February 2011 general election and the last day of December 2011 was €31,866.
In the May 2014 local elections, the Alliance won 14 seats including two seats outside Dublin on Sligo and Wexford County Councils. The Alliance’s European Parliament candidate, Bríd Smith, was not elected in Dublin.
Discussions were held in August 2015 with the Anti-Austerity Alliance about forming a new political grouping. On 17 September 2015, the two parties announced they had formally registered as a single political party for electoral purposes. The new organisation is called the Anti-Austerity Alliance–People Before Profit.
At the 2016 general election, Boyd Barrett was re-elected. He was joined by fellow Alliance candidates Gino Kenny and Bríd Smith. Candidates to come close included John Lyons and Gareth Weldon.
People Before Profit unsuccessfully ran one candidate, Sean Mitchell, in the 2007 Northern Ireland Assembly election, polling 774 first preferences in the Belfast West constituency. He successfully gained the right to stand in an election by threatening to take the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Peter Hain, to court if the legal loophole preventing him from doing so was enforced. (England, Scotland and Wales had secured the right to contest candidates under the age of 20, providing they were over 18, for constituencies for devolved government, whereas Northern Ireland had been simply excluded).
The People Before Profit Alliance ran four candidates in the Northern Ireland Assembly election of May 2011, winning 5,438 first-preference votes between them but no seats in the new Assembly. Its most successful candidate in this election wasEamonn McCann, who won 3,120 first-preference votes, or 8% of the total, in Foyle.
In May 2016, Gerry Carroll went on to top the poll in the Belfast West constituency at the 2016 Assembly Election with 8,299 votes (22.9%), almost 4,000 first-preference votes clear of his nearest challenger, Sinn Fein MLA Fra McCann. This victory secured PBP with their first elected MLA. Eamonn McCann also took a seat in the Derry constituency of Foyle.
Election results and governments
People Before Profit Alliance
1 / 60
5 / 63
3 / 40
1 / 40
1 / 18
3 / 40
1 / 34
Northern Ireland Assembly elections
|Election||Assembly||First Preference Vote||Vote %||Seats||Government|
0 / 108
0 / 108
2 / 108
0 / 18
|Conservative Party–Liberal Democrats|
0 / 18
Republic of Ireland
Dáil Éireann elections
|Election||Dáil||First Preference Vote||Vote %||Seats||Government|
0 / 166
|Fianna Fáil–Green Party-Progressive Democrats|
2 / 166
|Fine Gael–Labour Party|
Local Government elections
|Election||Country||First Preference Vote||Vote %||Seats|
|2009||Republic of Ireland||15,879||0.8%||
5 / 883
0 / 583
1 / 462
|2014||Republic of Ireland||29,051||1.7%||
14 / 949
The People Before Profit Alliance have so far only contested European Elections in the Republic of Ireland.
|Election||First Preference Vote||Vote %||Seats|
0 / 11
The Workers’ Party
Páirtí na nOibrithe
|General Secretary||John Lowry|
|Founded||1970 (current name 1982)|
|Headquarters||24a/25 Hill Street,
Dublin 1, Ireland
|European affiliation||Initiative of Communist and Workers’ Parties|
|International affiliation||International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties
International Communist Seminar
|Local government in the Republic of Ireland||
2 / 949
The Workers’ Party (Irish: Páirtí na nOibrithe), originally known as Official Sinn Féin, is a Marxist–Leninist political party in Ireland. The party originated out of Sinn Féin (which was founded in 1905) and the Irish Republican Army(IRA), as the split took place with the Provisionals within the republican movement at the onset of the Troubles in 1969–70. The Officials’ founders were Cathal Goulding and Tomás Mac Giolla.
The party name was changed to Sinn Féin the Workers’ Party in 1977 and then to the Workers’ Party in 1982. Throughout its history, the party has been closely associated with the Official Irish Republican Army. It supported theSoviet Union while that entity existed. Notable derivative organisations include the Irish Republican Socialist Party and the Democratic Left.
In the early to mid-1970s, Official Sinn Féin was sometimes called Sinn Féin (Gardiner Place) to distinguish it from the rival offshoot Provisional Sinn Féin, or Sinn Féin (Kevin Street). Gardiner Place had symbolic power as the headquarters of Sinn Féin for decades before the 1970 split. This sobriquet died out in the mid-1970s.
At its Ardfheis in January 1977, the Officials renamed themselves Sinn Féin – The Workers Party. Their first seats in Dáil Éireann were won under this new name. In 1979, a motion at the Ardfheis to remove the Sinn Féin prefix from the party name was narrowly defeated. The change finally came about three years later.
In Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin was organised under the name Republican Clubs to avoid a ban on Sinn Féin candidates, introduced in 1964 under Northern Ireland’s Emergency Powers Act), and the Officials continued to use this name after 1970. The party later used the name The Workers’ Party Republican Clubs. In 1982, both the northern and southern sections of the party became The Workers’ Party. The Workers’ Party is sometimes referred to as the “Sticks” or “Stickies” because in the 1970s it used adhesive stickers for the Easter Lily emblem in its 1916 commemorations, whereas Provisional Sinn Féin used a pin for theirs.
The modern origins of the party date from the early 1960s. After the failure of the then IRA’s 1956–1962 “Border Campaign“, the republican movement, with a new military and political leadership, undertook a complete reappraisal of itsraison d’être. Under the guidance of figures such as Cathal Goulding and Sean Garland, the leadership of Sinn Féin and the IRA sought to shift their emphasis away from the traditional republican goal of a 32-county Irish Republic redeemed(since Republicans regard the republic declared in 1916 as still in existence and the Anglo-Irish Treaty as invalid) by military action and to concentrate more on socialism and civil rights-related activities.
In doing so, they gradually abandoned the military focus that had characterised Irish republicanism. The leadership were substantially influenced by a group led by Roy Johnston who had been active in the Communist Party of Great Britain‘sConnolly Association. This group’s analysis saw the primary obstacle to Irish unity as the continuing division between the Protestant and Catholic working classes. This it attributed to the “divide and rule” policies of capitalism, whose interests were served by the working classes remaining divided. Military activity was seen as counterproductive since its effect was to further entrench sectarian divisions. If the working classes could be united in class struggle to overthrow their common rulers, a 32-county socialist republic would be the inevitable outcome.
However, this Marxist outlook became unpopular with many of the more traditionalist republicans, and the party/army leadership was criticised for failing to defend northern Catholic enclaves from loyalist attacks (these debates took place against the background of the violent beginning of what would become “the Troubles“). A growing minority within the rank-and-file wanted to maintain traditional militarist policies aimed at ending British rule in Northern Ireland. An equally contentious issue involved whether to or not to continue with the policy of abstentionism, that is, the refusal of elected representatives to take their seats in British or Irish legislatures. A majority of the leadership favoured abandoning this policy.
A group consisting of Seán Mac Stiofáin, Dáithí Ó Conaill, Seamus Twomey, and others, established themselves as a “Provisional Army Council” in 1969 in anticipation of a contentious 1970 Sinn Féin Ard Fheis (delegate conference). At the Ard Fheis, the leadership of Sinn Féin failed to attain the required two-thirds majority to change the party’s position on abstentionism. The debate was charged with allegations of vote-rigging and expulsions. When the Ard Fheis went on to pass a vote of confidence in the official Army Council (which had already approved an end to the abstentionist policy),Ruairí Ó Brádaigh led the minority in a walk-out, and went to a prearranged meeting in Parnell Square where they announced the establishment of a “caretaker” executive of Sinn Féin. The dissident council became known as the “Provisional Army Council” and its party and military wing as Sinn Féin and the Provisional IRA, while those remaining became known as Official Sinn Féin and the Official IRA. Official Sinn Féin, under the leadership of Tomás Mac Giolla, remained aligned to Goulding’s Official IRA.
The minority, those supportive of Seán Mac Stiofáin‘s “Provisional Army Council”, endeavoured to achieve a united Irelandby force. As the Troubles escalated, this “Provisional Army Council” would come to command the loyalty of the IRA national organisation save for a few isolated instances (that of the IRA Company of the Lower Falls road, Belfast under the command of Billy McMillen and other small units in Derry, Newry, Dublin and Wicklow); eventually the media came to characterize the Provisionals simply as “the IRA”.
In 1977 Official Sinn Féin ratified the party’s new name: Sinn Féin The Workers’ Party without dissension. According to Richard Sinnott, this “symbolism” was completed in April 1982 when the party became simply the Workers’ Party.[need quotation to verify]
Although the Official IRA was drawn into the spiralling violence of the early period of conflict in Northern Ireland, it gradually stepped down its military campaign against the United Kingdom‘s armed presence in Northern Ireland, declaring a permanent ceasefire in May 1972. Following this, the movement’s political development increased rapidly throughout the 1970s.
On the national question, the Officials saw the struggle against religious sectarianism and bigotry as their primary task. The party’s strategy was based on the “stages theory”: firstly, working-class unity within Northern Ireland had to be achieved, followed by the establishment of a united Ireland, and finally a socialist society would be created in Ireland.
In 1977 the party published and accepted as policy a document called the Irish Industrial Revolution. Written by Eoghan Harris and Eamon Smullen, it outlined the party’s economic stance and declared that the ongoing violence in Northern Ireland was “distracting working class attention from the class struggle to a mythical national question.” The policy document used Marxist terminology: it identified US imperialism as the now-dominant political and economic force in the southern state and attacked the failure of the nationalbourgeoisie to develop Ireland as a modern economic power.
Official Sinn Féin evolved towards Marxism-Leninism and became fiercely critical of the physical force Irish republicanism still espoused by Provisional Sinn Féin. Its new approach to the Northern conflict was typified by the slogan it was to adopt: “Peace, Democracy, Class Politics”. It aimed to replace sectarian politics with a class struggle which would unite Catholic and Protestant workers. The slogan’s echo of Vladimir Lenin‘s “Peace, Bread, Land” was indicative of the party’s new source of inspiration. Official Sinn Féin also built up fraternal relations with the USSR and socialist, workers’ and communistparties from around the world.
Throughout the 1980s the party became staunch opponents of republican political violence, controversially to the point of recommending cooperating with British security forces. They were one of the few organisations on the left of Irish politics to oppose the INLA/Provisional IRA 1981 Irish hunger strike.
The Workers’ Party (especially the faction around Harris) was strongly critical of traditional Irish republicanism, causing some of its critics such as Vincent Browne and Paddy Prendeville to accuse it of having an attitude to Northern Ireland that was close to Ulster unionism.
IRSP/INLA split and feud
In 1974 there was a split in the Official Republican Movement, over the ceasefire and the direction of the organisation. This led to the formation of the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) with Seamus Costello, who had been expelled from theOfficial IRA, as its chairperson. Also formed was its paramilitary wing, the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA). There was a number of tit-for-tat killings in a subsequent feud until a truce was agreed in 1977.
The 1992 split
In early 1992, following a failed attempt to change the organisation’s constitution, six of the party’s seven TDs, its MEP, numerous councillors and a significant minority of its membership broke off to form Democratic Left, a party which later merged with the Labour Party in 1999.
The reasons for the split were twofold. Firstly, a faction led by Proinsias De Rossa wanted to move the party towards an acceptance of free-market economics. Following the collapse of communism in eastern Europe, they felt that the Workers’ Party’s Marxist stance was now an obstacle to winning support at the polls. Secondly, media accusations had once again surfaced regarding the continued existence of the Official IRA which, it was alleged, remained armed and involved in fund-raising robberies, money laundering and other forms of criminality.
De Rossa and his supporters sought to distance themselves from alleged paramilitary activity at a special Árd Fheis held atDún Laoghaire on 15 February 1992. A motion proposed by De Rossa and General Secretary Des Geraghty sought to stand down the existing membership, elect an 11-member provisional executive council and make several other significant changes in party structures was defeated. The motion to “reconstitute” the party achieved the support of 61% of delegates. However, this was short of the two-thirds majority needed to change the Workers’ Party constitution. The Workers’ Party later claimed that there was vote rigging by the supporters of the De Rossa motion. As a result of the conference’s failure to adopt the motion, De Rossa and his supporters split from the organisation and established a new party which was temporarily known as “New Agenda” before the permanent name of “Democratic Left” was adopted. In the South the rump of the party was left with seven councillors and one TD.
In the North, before the 1992 split, the party had four councillors – Tom French stayed with the party, Gerry Cullen (Dungannon) and Seamus Lynch (Belfast) joined New Agenda/Democratic Left, and David Kettyles ran in subsequent elections in Fermanagh as an Independent or Progressive Socialist.
While the majority of public representatives left with De Rossa, many rank-and-file members remained in the Workers’ Party. Many of these regarded those who broke away as careerists and social democrats who had taken flight after the collapse of the Soviet Union and denounced those who left as ‘liquidators’. Marian Donnelly replaced De Rossa as President from 1992 to 1994. In 1994 Tom French became President and served for four years until Sean Garland was elected President in 1998. Garland retired as President in May 2008 and was replaced by Mick Finnegan who served until September 2014, being replaced by Michael Donnelly
A further minor split occurred when a number of members left and established Republican Left; many of these went on to join the Irish Socialist Network. In 1998 another split occurred after a number of former OIRA members in Newry and Belfast, who had been expelled, formed a group called the Official Republican Movement, which recently announced it was decommissioning.
The party today
The Workers’ Party has struggled since the early 1990s to rejuvenate its fortunes in both Irish jurisdictions. The party maintains a youth wing, Workers’ Party Youth, and a Women’s Committee. It also has offices in Dublin, Belfast, Cork and Waterford. Apart from its political work at home in Ireland, it has sent numerous party delegations to international gatherings of communist and socialist parties.
The party continues to hold a strongly anti-sectarian position and supported an independent anti-sectarian candidate, John Gilliland, in the 2004 European elections in Northern Ireland.
Waterford City remained a holdout for the party in the 1990s and early 2000s. In the 1997 Irish general election Martin O’Regan narrowly failed to secure a seat in the Waterford constituency. However, in February 2008, John Halligan of Waterford resigned from the party when it refused to drop its opposition to service charges. He was later elected a TD for Waterford in the 2011 general election. The party’s sole remaining councillor lost his seat in the 2014 local elections.
Michael Donnelly, a Galway-based university lecturer, was elected as the party President at the party’s Árd Fheis on 27 September 2014 to replace Mick Finnegan who had announced his decision to retire from the position after six years.The General Secretary is John Lowry and the party’s Director of International Affairs is Gerry Grainger. The Workers’ Party in Northern Ireland is registered with the British Electoral Commission, with Lowry named as its leader.
The Workers’ Party called for a No vote against the Treaty of Lisbon in both the June 2008 referendum, in which the proposal was defeated, and the October 2009 referendum, in which the proposal was approved.
The Workers’ Party has been active in grassroot politics throughout the country, including maintaining a presence at pro-Choice marches, LGBT Rights marches, and other progressive movements. It was the only left-wing party to campaign for a No vote in the 2013 Seanad Abolition referendum.
Republic of Ireland
The Workers’ Party made its electoral breakthrough in 1981 when Joe Sherlock won a seat in Cork East. It increased this to three seats in 1982 and to four seats in 1987. The Workers’ Party had its best performance at the polls in 1989 when it won seven seats in the general election and party president Proinsias De Rossa won a seat in Dublin in the European electionheld on the same day, sitting with the communist Left Unity group.
Following the split of 1992, Tomás Mac Giolla, a TD in the Dublin West constituency and President of the party for most of the previous 30 years, was the only member of the Dáil parliamentary party not to side with the new Democratic Left. Mac Giolla lost his seat in the general election later that year, and no TD has been elected for the party since then. However, at local authority level, the Workers’ Party maintained elected representation on Dublin, Cork and Waterford corporations in the aftermath of the split, and Mac Giolla was elected Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1993.
Outside of the south-east, the Workers’ Party retains active branches in various areas of the Republic, including Dublin,Cork, County Meath and County Louth. In the 1999 local elections, it lost all of its seats in Dublin and Cork and only managed to retain three seats in Waterford City. Further electoral setbacks and a minor split left the party after the2004 local elections, with only two councillors, both in Waterford.
The party fielded twelve candidates in the 2009 local elections. The party ran Malachy Steenson in the Dublin Central by-election on the same date. Ted Tynan was elected to Cork City Council in the Cork City North East ward. Davy Walsh retained his seat in Waterford City Council. In the 2014 local elections Tynan retained his seat; however Walsh lost his, following major boundary changes resulting from the merging of Waterford City and County councils. In January 2015, Independent councillor Éilis Ryan on Dublin City Council joined the party.
Dáil Éireann electoral performance
|Election||Seats won||±||Position||First Pref votes||%||Government||Leader|
0 / 144
|0||15,366||1.1%||No Seats||Tomás Mac Giolla|
0 / 148
|0||27,209||1.7%||No Seats||Tomás Mac Giolla|
1 / 166
(Abstained in initial vote on minority FG/Lab government)
|Tomás Mac Giolla|
3 / 166
(Supported minority FF government)
|Tomás Mac Giolla|
2 / 166
|1||2||54,888||3.3%||Opposition||Tomás Mac Giolla|
4 / 166
|2||4||67,273||3.8%||Opposition||Tomás Mac Giolla|
7 / 166
|3||7||82,263||5.0%||Opposition||Proinsias De Rossa|
0 / 166
|7||0||11,533||0.7%||No Seats||Tomás Mac Giolla|
0 / 166
|0||7,808||0.4%||No Seats||Tom French|
0 / 166
|0||4,012||0.2%||No Seats||Seán Garland|
0 / 166
|0||3,026||0.1%||No Seats||Seán Garland|
0 / 166
|0||3,056||0.1%||No Seats||Mick Finnegan|
0 / 158
|0||3,242||0.2%||No Seats||Michael Donnelly|
The party gained ten seats at the 1973 Northern Irish local elections. Four years later, in May 1977, this had dropped to six council seats and 2.6% of the vote. One of their best results was when Tom French polled 19% in the 1986 Upper Bann by-election, although no other candidates stood against the sitting MP and a year later, when other parties contested the constituency, he only polled 4.7% of the vote.
Three councillors left the party during the split in 1992. Davy Kettyles became an independent ‘Progressive Socialist’while Gerry Cullen in Dungannon and the Workers’ Party northern chairman, Seamus Lynch in Belfast, joined Democratic Left. The party held onto its one council seat in the 1993 local elections with Peter Smyth retaining the seat that had been held by Tom French in Craigavon. This was lost in 1997, leaving them without elected representation in Northern Ireland.
The party performed poorly in the March 2007 Assembly election; it won no seats, and in its best result in Belfast West, it gained 1.26% of the vote. The party did not field any candidates at the 2010 Westminster general election. In the 2011 Assembly election the Workers’ Party ran in four constituencies, securing 586 first-preference votes (1.7%) in Belfast West and 332 (1%) in Belfast North.
The party contested the Westminster general election in May 2015, standing parliamentary candidates in Northern Ireland for the first time in ten years. It fielded five candidates and secured 2,724 votes, with Gemma Weir picking up 919 votes (2.3%) in Belfast North.
The party has published a number of newspapers throughout the years, with many of the theorists of the movement writing for these papers. After the 1970 split the Officials kept publishing the United Irishman (the traditional newspaper of the republican movement) monthly until May 1980. In 1973 the party launched a weekly paper The Irish People, which was focused on issues in the 26 counties, there was also a The Northern People published in Belfast and focused on northern issues. The party published an occasional international bulletin and a woman’s magazine called Women’s View. From 1989 to 1992 it produced a theoretical magazine called Making Sense. Other papers were produced such as Workers’ Weekly.
The party produces a magazine, Look Left. Originally conceived as a straightforward party paper, Look Left was relaunched as a more broad-left style publication in March 2010 but still bearing the emblem of the Workers’ Party. It is distributed by party members and supporters and is also stocked by a number of retailers including Eason’s and several radical/left-wing bookshops.
Traditional Unionist Voice
|Leader||Jim Allister MLA QC|
|Founded||7 December 2007|
|Headquarters||139 Holywood Road,Belfast BT4 3BE,
Anti-St Andrews Agreement
|European Parliament group||None|
|Colours||Red, white, and blue|
1 / 108
|NI Local Councils||
13 / 462
Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) is a unionist political party in Northern Ireland founded on 7 December 2007, as an anti-St Andrews Agreementsplinter group from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Its first and current leader is Jim Allister who, until 2009, sat as an independent Member of the European Parliament, having been elected for the DUP in 2004. In the2009 European elections Allister lost his seat when he stood as a TUV candidate. In June 2008, it was announced that former Ulster Unionist Party(UUP) MP William Ross had been made party president.
The founding principles of the TUV were:
- retention of the Union between Northern Ireland and Great Britain
- commitment to a form of devolution that rejects mandatory coalition
- that the rule of law must prevail in every part of Northern Ireland and be administered without fear or favour
- support for socially conservative values
The party’s first electoral contest was the Dromore local government by-election for Banbridge District Council which took place on 13 February 2008 with its candidate being Dromore solicitor, Keith Harbinson. He took 19.5% of the first preference votes cast.
At a Craigavon Borough Council local by-election in Lurgan on 14 January 2010, the TUV won 19.3% of first preference votes. The UUP candidate, Jo-Anne Dobson, won with 63.9%. The DUP did not contest the seat.
European Parliament election 2009
Jim Allister, leader of the TUV, contested the European Parliament election on 4 June 2009. He stood on a ticket of opposition to the DUP/Sinn Féin-led Northern Ireland Executive. The election turned out to be hotly contested, with the unionist vote split three ways. Sinn Féin’s sitting MEP Bairbre de Brún topped the poll (a first for any Irish nationalist candidate). The Ulster Conservative and Unionist candidate Jim Nicholson took the second seat, with Diane Dodds of the DUP coming in third place, defeating Allister. The TUV polled 66,000 votes. Allister called the results a victory for unionism and indicated his intention to stand TUV candidates in future Northern Ireland Assembly and parliamentary elections. Allister commented, “It shows the depth of feeling that there is among many unionists who refuse to be rolled over in the era of Sinn Féin rule, who have quite rightly a resentment against those who betrayed them, deceived them, conned them, in the assembly election.”
|Party||Candidate||Seats||Loss/Gain||First Preference Votes||Seat|
|Number||% of vote|
|Sinn Féin||Bairbre de Brún||1||0||126,184||25.8||1st|
|Green (NI)||Steven Agnew||0||0||15,764||3.2|
Source: RTÉ News
2010 Westminster general election
On 6 May at the 2010 general election for the Westminster parliament, the TUV received 26,300 votes across Northern Ireland, a large drop on what it had received in the previous year’s European elections. In the same election, the DUP received 168,216 votes and the UCUNF received 102,361 votes. The TUV failed to win any of the 10 seats it contested. A week after the election, the TUV acknowledged on their website that the results had been ‘disappointing’.
|Belfast East||David Vance||1,856||5.4||4|
|East Antrim||Sammy Morrison||1,826||6.0||6|
|East Londonderry||William Ross||2,572||7.4||5|
|Lagan Valley||Keith Harbinson||3,154||8.6||4|
|Mid Ulster||Walter Millar||2,995||7.3||5|
|North Antrim||Jim Allister||7,114||16.8||2|
|North Down||Kaye Kilpatrick||1,634||4.9||4|
|South Antrim||Mel Lucas||1,829||5.4||6|
|South Down||Ivor McConnell||1,506||3.5||5|
2011 council elections
Traditional Unionist Voice fielded 41 candidates in the 2011 council elections. It received 2% of the overall vote. Two TUV candidates were elected in Ballymena, and one each in Moyle, Ballymoney, Larne and Limavady.
2011 Assembly election
The party fielded 12 candidates for the 2011 Assembly election. TUV received 16,480 votes or 2.5% of the poll, which was a drop in the number of votes received in the 2010 election. Eleven candidates were unsuccessful but in the North Antrim constituency Jim Allister received 4,061 first preference votes (10.1%), and on the ninth and last count was deemed to be elected without reaching the quota of 5,760 votes.
2014 European Parliament election
In 2014, Allister once again contested the Northern Ireland constituency in the European Parliament election. On this occasion he polled 75,806 first preference votes, 12.1% of the total. This represented an increase in the number of votes, but a decrease of just over one percentage point in terms of vote share. Allister again failed to be elected, with Sinn Féin, the DUP and UUP all retaining their seats. Allister was eliminated in the sixth of eight counts.
2014 council elections
In the Northern Ireland local elections, 2014 (held on the same day as the European election) for the eleven new local councils in Northern Ireland, TUV candidates polled a total of 28,310 first preference votes, or 4.5%, an increase on the previous council elections. The party had 13 successful candidates. They achieved their largest number of councillors inMid and East Antrim, where they became the third-largest party with five seats. They won three seats in Causeway Coast and Glens, two in Antrim and Newtownabbey and one each in Belfast, North Down and Ards and Lisburn and Castlereagh.
2015 general election
The party stood in seven constituencies, taking second in North Antrim but failing to place in the top four elsewhere..
|East Antrim||Ruth Wilson||1,903||5.7||6|
|Lagan Valley||Samuel Morrison||1,887||4.7||6|
|Mid Ulster||Gareth Ferguson||1,892||4.6||5|
|North Antrim||Timothy Gaston||6,561||15.7||2|
|North Down||William Cudworth||686||1.9||7|
|South Antrim||Rick Cairns||1,908||5.2||6|
2016 Assembly Election
The party stood in nine constituencies.Jim Allister retained his seat in North Antrim but were unable to add any additional MLA’s.
|East Antrim||Ruth Wilson||1,643||5.1||10|
|East Londonderry||Jordon Armstrong||1,191||3.5||11|
|Lagan Valley||Lyle Rea||1,291||3.3||10|
|Mid Ulster||Hanna Loughrin||1,877||4.6||8|
|North Antrim||Jim Allister||5,399||13.2||2|
|North Antrim||Timothy Gaston||1,955||4.8||9|
|North Down||John Brennan||610||1.9||12|
|South Antrim||Rick Cairns||1,318||3.8||10|
|Upper Bann||Roy Ferguson||1,177||2.6||10|
On 4 November 2009, the party caused controversy when it referred to the Irish language as a “leprechaun language” on its web site. The statement was issued under the name of TUV vice-chairman Keith Harbinson and condemned theDepartment of Education for “wasting” money on Irish. The party later removed the phrase, but the original page had already been spread on numerous other websites.
In December 2009, TUV member Trevor Collins promoted a petition to release Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) memberTorrens Knight from prison. Knight had already been imprisoned for taking part in the Greysteel massacre and Castlerock killings in 1993. He was released under the terms of the Belfast Agreement (1998), but in earlier in 2009 had been sent back to prison for beating two women in a bar. Party leader Jim Allister refused to take action against Collins.
On 28 November 2012, Ballymena TUV councillor David Tweed was convicted on 13 counts of sexual offences against two young girls. Pending sentencing he remained a member of Ballymena Borough Council and of the TUV, although the party announced on 15 November that it had ‘suspended’ his membership “not because we doubt his innocence, but because this is what the party rules require.” The TUV also stated that the sex offences related “to a period long before he was a member of this party”. In January 2013 Tweed was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment. The TUV chose one of its unsuccessful 2011 Ballymena candidates, Timothy Gaston, to replace Tweed as a councillor.
|#||Leader||Born-Died||Term start||Term end|
|1||Jim Allister||1953–||7 December 2007||Incumbent|
Ulster Unionist Party
|Leader||Mike Nesbitt MLA|
|Chairman||The Lord Empey|
|Founded||3 March 1905|
|Preceded by||Irish Unionist Alliance|
2-4 Belmont Road
|Youth wing||Young Unionists|
|European affiliation||Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists|
|European Parliament group||European Conservatives and Reformists|
|Colours||Red, white and blue|
|House of Commons
2 / 18
|House of Lords||
2 / 800
1 / 3
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The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) is one of the two main unionist political parties in Northern Ireland. It governed Northern Ireland between 1921 and 1972 and was supported by most unionist voters throughout the conflict known as the Troubles, during which time it was often referred to as the Official Unionist Party (OUP). The party is led by Mike Nesbitt.
Since 1999, the UUP has lost support among Northern Ireland’s unionists to the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in successive elections at all levels of government.
In 2009, the party entered an electoral alliance with the Conservative Partyand the two parties fielded joint candidates for elections to the House of Commons and the European Parliament as Ulster Conservatives and Unionists – New Force (UCUNF).
Currently, the UUP are working with the Social Democratic and Labour Party(SDLP) to form an official opposition in the Northern Irish government, instead of following the standard procedure that has been in place since 2007 – entering into a 5-party coalition with the SDLP, the DUP, Sinn Fein and theAlliance Party.
1880s to 1921
The Ulster Unionist Party traces its formal existence back to the foundation of the Ulster Unionist Council in 1905. Before that, however, there had been a less formally organised Irish Unionist Alliance (IUA) since the late 19th century, usually dominated by unionists from Ulster. Modern organised unionism properly emerged after William Ewart Gladstone‘s introduction in 1886 of the first of three Home Rule Bills in response to demands by the Irish Parliamentary Party. The IUA was an alliance of Irish Conservatives and Liberal Unionists, the latter having split from the Liberal Party over the issue ofhome rule. It was the merger of these two parties in 1912 that gave rise to the current name of the Conservative and Unionist Party, to which the UUP was formally linked (to varying degrees) until 1985.
From the beginning, the party had a strong association with the Orange Order, a Protestant fraternal organisation. The original composition of the Ulster Unionist Council was 25% Orange delegates, however this was reduced through the years. Although most unionist support was based in the geographic area that became Northern Ireland, there were at one time unionist enclaves throughout southern Ireland. Unionists in County Cork and Dublin were particularly influential. The initial leadership of the Ulster Unionist Party all came from outside what would later become Northern Ireland; men such asColonel Saunderson, Viscount (later the Earl of) Midleton and the Dubliner Edward Carson, all members of the Irish Unionist Alliance. However, after the Irish Convention failed to reach an understanding on home rule and with the partition of Ireland under the Government of Ireland Act 1920, Irish unionism in effect split. Many southern unionist politicians quickly became reconciled with the new Irish Free State, sitting in its Seanad or joining its political parties. The existence of a separate Ulster Unionist Party became entrenched as the party took control of the new government of Northern Ireland.
The leadership of the UUP was taken by Sir Edward Carson in 1910. Throughout his 11-year leadership he fought a sustained campaign against Irish Home Rule, including being involved in the formation of the Ulster Volunteers (UVF) in 1912. In the 1918 general election, Carson switched constituencies from his former seat ofDublin University to Belfast Duncairn. Carson strongly opposed the partition of Ireland and the end of unionism as an all-Ireland political force, so he refused the opportunity to be Prime Minister of Northern Ireland or even to sit in the Northern Ireland House of Commons, citing a lack of connection with the place. The leadership of the UUP and, subsequently, Northern Ireland, was taken by Sir James Craig.
The Stormont era
Until almost the very end of its period of power in Northern Ireland, the UUP was led by a combination of landed gentry (Basil Brooke, 1st Viscount Brookeborough andJames Chichester-Clark), aristocracy (Terence O’Neill) and gentrified industrial magnates (James Craig, 1st Viscount Craigavon and John Miller Andrews – nephew of William Pirrie, 1st Viscount Pirrie). Only its last Prime Minister, Brian Faulkner, was from a middle-class background. During this era, all but 11 of the 149 UUP Stormont MPs were members of the Orange Order, as were all Prime Ministers.
James Craig governed Northern Ireland from its inception until his death in 1940 and is buried with his wife by the east wing of Parliament Buildings. His successor, J. M. Andrews, was heavily criticised for appointing octogenarian veterans of Craigavon’s administration to his cabinet. His government was also believed to be more interested in protecting the statue of Carson at the Stormont Estate than the citizens of Belfast during the Belfast blitz. A backbench revolt in 1943 resulted in his resignation and replacement by Sir Basil Brooke (later Viscount Brookeborough), although he was recognised as leader of the party until 1946.
Brookeborough, despite having felt that Craigavon had held on to power for too long, was Prime Minister for one year longer. During this time he was on more than one occasion called to meetings of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland to explain his actions, most notably following the 1947 Education Act which made the government responsible for the payment of National Insurance contributions of teachers in Catholic Church-controlled schools. Ian Paisley called for Brookeborough’s resignation in 1953 when he refused to sack Brian Maginess and Clarence Graham, who had given speeches supporting re-admitting Catholics to the UUP. He retired in 1963 and was replaced by Terence O’Neill, who emerged ahead of other candidates, Jack Andrews and Faulkner.
In the 1960s, identifying with the civil rights movement of Martin Luther King and encouraged by attempts at reform under O’Neill, various organisations campaigned for civil rights, calling for changes to the system for allocating public housing and the voting system for the local government franchise, which was restricted to (disproportionately Protestant) rate payers. O’Neill had pushed through some reforms but in the process the Ulster Unionists became strongly divided. At the 1969 Stormont General Election UUP candidates stood on both pro- and anti-O’Neill platforms. Several independent pro-O’Neill unionists challenging his critics, whilst the Protestant Unionist Party of Ian Paisley mounted a hard-line challenge. The result proved inconclusive for O’Neill, who resigned a short time later. His resignation was probably caused by a speech of James Chichester-Clark who stated that he disagreed with the timing, but not the principle, of universal suffrage at local elections.
Chichester-Clark won the leadership election to replace O’Neill and swiftly moved to implement many of O’Neill’s reforms. Civil disorder continued to mount, culminating in August 1969 when Catholic Bogside residents clashed with the Royal Ulster Constabulary in Derry because of anApprentice Boys of Derry march, sparking days of riots. Early in 1971, Chichester-Clark flew to London to request further military aid following the 1971 Scottish soldiers’ killings. When this was all but refused, he resigned to bereplaced by Brian Faulkner.
Faulkner’s government struggled though 1971 and into 1972. After Bloody Sunday, the British Government threatened to remove control of the security forces from the devolved government. Faulkner reacted by resigning with his entire cabinet, and the British Government suspended, and eventually abolished, the Northern Ireland Parliament, replacing it with Direct Rule.
The liberal unionist group, the New Ulster Movement, which had advocated the policies of Terence O’Neill, left and formed the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland in April 1970, while the emergence of Ian Paisley’s Protestant Unionist Partycontinued to draw off some working-class and more Ulster loyalist support.
In June 1973 the UUP won a majority of seats in the new Northern Ireland Assembly, but the party was divided on policy. The Sunningdale Agreement, which led to the formation of a power-sharing Executive under Ulster Unionist leader Brian Faulkner, ruptured the party. In the 1973 elections to the Executive the party found itself divided, a division that did not formally end until January 1974 with the triumph of the anti-Sunningdale faction. Faulkner was then overthrown, and he set up theUnionist Party of Northern Ireland (UPNI). The Ulster Unionists were then led byHarry West from 1974 until 1979. In the February 1974 general election, the party participated in the United Ulster Unionist Coalition (UUUC) with Vanguard and theDemocratic Unionist Party, successor to the Protestant Unionist Party. The result was that the UUUC won 11 out of 12 parliamentary seats in Northern Ireland on a fiercely anti-Sunningdale platform, although they barely won 50% of the overall popular vote. This result was a fatal blow for the Executive, which soon collapsed.
Up until 1974 the UUP was affiliated with the National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations, and Ulster Unionist MPs sat with the Conservative Party atWestminster, traditionally taking the Conservative parliamentary whip. To all intents and purposes the party functioned as the Northern Ireland branch of the Conservative Party. In 1974, in protest over the Sunningdale Agreement, the Westminster Ulster Unionist MPs withdrew from the alliance. The party remained affiliated to the National Union but in 1985, they withdrew from it as well, in protest over the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Subsequently, the Conservative Party has organised separately in Northern Ireland, with little electoral success.
Under West’s leadership, the party recruited Enoch Powell, who became Ulster Unionist MP for South Down in October 1974 after defecting from the Conservatives. Powell advocated a policy of ‘integration’, whereby Northern Ireland would be administered as an integral part of the United Kingdom. This policy divided both the Ulster Unionists and the wider unionist movement, as Powell’s ideas conflicted with those supporting a restoration of devolved government to Northern Ireland. The party also made gains upon the break-up of the Vanguard Party and its merger back into the Ulster Unionists. The separate United Ulster Unionist Party (UUUP) emerged from the remains of Vanguard but folded in the early 1980s, as did the UPNI. In both cases the main beneficiaries of this were the Ulster Unionists, now under the leadership of James Molyneaux (1979–95).
David Trimble led the party between 1995 and 2005. His support for the Belfast Agreement caused a rupture within the party into pro-agreement and anti-agreement factions. Trimble served as First Minister of Northern Ireland in the power-sharing administration created under the Belfast Agreement.
Unusually for a unionist party, the UUP had a Roman Catholic Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) (the Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly), Sir John Gorman until the 2003 election. In March 2005, the Orange Order voted to end its official links with the UUP, while still maintaining the same unofficial links as other interest groups. Trimble faced down Orange Order critics who tried to suspend him for his attendance at a Catholic funeral for a young boy killed by the Real IRA in the Omagh bombing. Trimble and Irish president Mary McAleese, in a sign of unity, walked into the church together.
|Wikinews has related news:UUP leader loses seat in 2005 UK General Election|
In the 2001 general election, the Ulster Unionists lost a number of seats belonging to UUP stalwarts; for example, John Taylor, the former deputy leader of the party, lost his seat of Strangford to Iris Robinson.
The party’s misfortunes continued at the 2005 election, where they experienced a massive fall from grace. The party held six seats at Westminster immediately before the 2005 general election, down from seven after the previous general election following the defection of Jeffrey Donaldson in 2004. The election resulted in the loss of five of their six seats. The only seat won by an Ulster Unionist was North Down, by Lady Sylvia Hermon MP, who won the seat in the 2001 general election from Raymond McCartney of United Kingdom Unionist Party. Only the Labour Party lost more seats in 2005. David Trimble himself lost his seat in Upper Bann and resigned as party leader soon after. The ensuing leadership election was won byReg Empey.
In May 2006 UUP leader Reg Empey attempted to create a new assembly group that would have included Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) leader David Ervine. The PUP is the political wing of the illegal Ulster Volunteer Force(UVF). Many in the UUP, including the last remaining MP, Sylvia Hermon, were opposed to the move.The link was in the form of a new group called the ‘Ulster Unionist Party Assembly Group’ whose membership was the 24 UUP MLAs and Ervine. Empey justified the link by stating that under the d’Hondt method for allocating ministers in the Assembly, the new group would take a seat in the Executive from Sinn Féin.
Following a request for a ruling from the DUP’s Peter Robinson, the Speaker ruled that the UUPAG was not a political party within the meaning of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.
The party did poorly in the 2007 Northern Ireland Assembly election. The party retained 18 of its seats within the assembly. Empey was the only leader of one of the four main parties not to be re-elected on first preference votes alone in the Assembly elections of March 2007.
|Party||Leader||Candidates||Seats||Change from 2003||1st Pref Votes||1st Pref %||Change from 2003||Executive seats|
In July 2008, the UUP and Conservative Party announced that a joint working group had been established to examine closer ties. On 26 February 2009, the Ulster Unionist Executive and area council of Northern Ireland Conservatives agreed to field joint candidates in future elections to the House of Commons and European Parliament under the name “Ulster Conservatives and Unionists – New Force”. The agreement meant that Ulster Unionist MPs could have sat in a Conservative Government, renewing its own former relationship with the Conservatives and that of the Scottish Unionist Party before its merger to form the current Conservative Party. The UUP’s sole remaining MP at the time, Sylvia Hermon, opposed the agreement, stating she would not be willing to stand under the UCUNF banner.
In February 2010, Hermon confirmed that she would not be seeking a nomination as a Conservative/UUP candidate for the forthcoming general election. On 25 March 2010, she formally resigned from the party and announced that she would be standing as an independent candidate at the general election. As a result, the UUP were left without representation in the House of Commons for the first time since the party’s creation.
At the 2010 General Election, UCUNF won no seats in Northern Ireland (while Hermon won hers as an independent). The Ulster Conservatives and Unionists – New Force label was not used again. Following the election, Sir Reg Empey resigned as leader. He was replaced by Tom Elliott as party leader in the subsequent leadership election. During the leadership election, it emerged that a quarter of the UUP membership came from Fermanagh and South Tyrone, an area with about 6% of Northern Ireland’s population. the constituency of Tom Elliott. The Dublin-based political magazine, the Phoenix, described Elliott as a “blast from the past” and said that his election signified “a significant shift to the right” by the UUP.Shortly after his election, three 2010 general election candidates resigned: Harry Hamilton, Paula Bradshaw and Trevor Ringland. Bradshaw and Hamilton subsequently joined the Alliance Party.
The party further declined in the 2011 Assembly elections (standing again as the UUP). It lost two seats and won fewer votes than the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) (although it won more seats than the SDLP) and two of its candidates, Bill Manwaring and Lesley Macaulay, subsequently joined the Conservative Party. In addition, east of the Bann, it lost seats to the Alliance Party. It was also overtaken by Alliance on Belfast City Council.
|Party||Leader||Candidates||Seats||Change from 2007||1st Pref Votes||1st Pref %||Change from 2007||Executive seats|
Tom Elliott was criticised for comments he made in his victory speech where he described elements of Sinn Féin as “scum”. Elliott resigned in March 2012 saying some people had not given him a ‘fair opportunity’ to develop and progress many party initiatives. Mike Nesbitt was elected leader on 31 March 2012, beating the only other candidate, John McCallister, by 536 votes to 129.
However, in light of all these failures, the party has managed to reverse their decline to an extent in elections from 2014.
Although their MEP seat, held by Jim Nicholson had its vote percentage decreased slightly in the 2014 election, the party managed to make gains in the local elections of that same day. They increased their share by 0.9%, making it the only party to increase its vote share, and gaining 15 seats as a result.
At the 2015 general election, the UUP returned to Westminster, gaining the South Antrim seat from the DUP and Fermanagh & South Tyrone (where they had an electoral pact with the DUP not standing) from Sinn Féin.
The UUP is still organised around the Ulster Unionist Council, which was from 1905 until 2004 the only legal representation of the party. Following the adoption of a new Constitution in 2004, the UUP has been an entity in its own right, however the UUC still exists as the supreme decision making body of the Party. In autumn 2007 the delegates system was done away with, and today all UUP members are members of the Ulster Unionist Council, with entitlements to vote for the Leader, party officers and on major policy decisions.
Each Constituency in Northern Ireland forms the boundary of a UUP Constituency Association, which is made up of branches formed along local boundaries (usually District Electoral Areas). There are also four ‘representative bodies’, theUlster Women’s Unionist Council, the Ulster Young Unionist Council, the Westminster Unionist Association (the party’s Great Britain branch) and the Ulster Unionist Councillors Association. Each Constituency Association and Representative Body elects a number of delegates to the Party Executive Committee, which governs many areas of party administration such as membership and candidate selection.
The UUP maintained a formal connection with the Orange Order from its foundation until 2005, and with the Apprentice Boys of Derry until 1975. Only three of the party’s Westminster MPs (Enoch Powell, Ken Maginnis and Sylvia Hermon) have not been members of the Orange Order. This was said to be a factor in discouraging Catholic membership of the party. While the party was considering structural reforms, including the connection with the Order, it was the Order itself that severed the connection in 2004. The connection with the Apprentice Boys was cut in a 1975 review of the party’s structure as they had not taken up their delegates for several years beforehand.
The UUP’s youth wing is the Young Unionists, first formed in 2004 as a rebrand of the Ulster Young Unionist Council, which formed in 1946. Many of its members have stayed with the party, such as the present leader of the UUP. Others have left to start other Unionist parties. Having disbanded twice, in 1974 and 2004, the Council was re-constituted by young activists in March 2004. This resulted in the Young Unionists (YU) becoming a representative body of the UUP and subject to its revamp of their Constitution.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Members of the House of Commons as of May 2015:
Members of the House of Lords as of May 2015:
Northern Ireland Assembly
Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly as elected in May 2016:
- Andy Allen – Belfast East
- Roy Beggs, Jr. – East Antrim
- Steve Aiken OBE – South Antrim
- Philip Smith – Strangford
- Alan Chambers MBE – North Down
- Jo-Anne Dobson – Upper Bann
- Doug Beattie MC – Upper Bann
- Ross Hussey – West Tyrone
- Jenny Palmer – Lagan Valley
- Danny Kennedy – Newry and Armagh
- Harold McKee – South Down
- Mike Nesbitt – Strangford
- Sandra Overend – Mid Ulster
- Rosemary Barton – Fermanagh and South Tyrone
- Robin Swann – North Antrim
- Robbie Butler – Lagan Valley
Members elected in 2014:
The current Party spokesman are:
|Executive Office||Mike Nesbitt MLA|
|Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs||Harold McKee MLA|
|Communities||Andy Allen MLA|
|Education||Sandra Overend MLA|
|Economy||Steve Aiken MLA|
|Finance||Philip Smith MLA|
|Health||Jo-Anne Dobson MLA|
|Infrastructure||Jenny Palmer MLA|
|Justice||Doug Beattie MC MLA|
|Mental Health||Robbie Butler MLA|
|Policing||Ross Hussey MLA|
The current Party Officers are:
|Leader||Mike Nesbitt MLA|
|Party Chairman||Lord Empey|
|Party Vice Chairman||Roy McCune|
|Assembly Group Leader||Robin Swann MLA|
|Westminster Leader||Lord Rogan|
|Party Treasurer||Ald Mark Cosgrove|
|Chairman of the Councillors’ Association||Cllr Trevor Wilson|
|Member of the European Parliament||Jim Nicholson MEP|
|Leader’s Nominee||Tom Elliott MP|
|Leader’s Nominee||Phillip Smyth|
|Members’ Nominee||George White|
|Members’ Nominee||Cllr Alexander Redpath|
|Members’ Nominee||Julie Kee|
- Ulster Unionist Party politicians
- List of Ulster Unionist Party Peers
- List of Ulster Unionist Party MPs
- Ulster Unionist Chief Whip
- Ulster Unionist Party Presidents and General Secretaries
|President||Gerry Adams TD|
|Secretary General||Dawn Doyle|
|Vice-President||Mary Lou McDonaldTD|
|Assembly Group Leader||Carál Ní Chuilín MLA|
|Founded||28 November 1905
17 January 1970
|Headquarters||44 Parnell Square, Dublin 1, Ireland|
|Youth wing||Sinn Féin Republican Youth|
|European Parliament group||European United Left–Nordic Green Left|
|Slogan||“Building an Ireland of Equals”|
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Sinn Féin (/ʃɪn ˈfeɪn/ shin-fayn Irish pronunciation: [ʃɪnʲ ˈfʲeːnʲ]) is an Irish republican political party active on Ireland. The phrase “Sinn Féin” is Irish for “ourselves” or “we ourselves”, although it is frequently mistranslated as “ourselves alone”. The Sinn Féin organisation was founded in 1905 byArthur Griffith. It took its current form in 1970 after a split within the party (with the other party becoming the Workers’ Party of Ireland), and has historically been associated with the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA). Gerry Adams has been party president since 1983. The party supports separatist movements in Scotland, the Basque Country and Catalonia.
Sinn Féin is the second-largest party behind the Democratic Unionist Party(DUP) in the Northern Ireland Assembly, where it has four ministerial posts in the power-sharing Northern Ireland Executive, and the third-largest party in the Oireachtas, the parliament of the Republic of Ireland. Sinn Féin received the second highest number of Northern Ireland votes and seats in the 2015 Westminster elections, behind the DUP.
The name of the party Sinn Féin is from the Irish language and means “We Ourselves” (often mistranslated as “Ourselves Alone”) . The meaning of the name itself is an assertion of Irish national sovereignty and self-determination, i.e. – the Irish people governing themselves, rather than being part of a political union with Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) under the Westminster Parliament.
Around the time of 1969–1970, due to the split in the Republican movement there were two groups calling themselves Sinn Féin; one under Tomás Mac Giolla, the other under Ruairí Ó Brádaigh. The latter became known as Sinn Féin (Kevin Street) or Provisional Sinn Féin and the former became known as Sinn Féin (Gardiner Place) or Official Sinn Féin. As the “Officials” dropped all mention of Sinn Féin from their name in 1982, instead calling itself the “Workers’ Party”, the Provisionals were now generally known as Sinn Féin. Supporters of Republican Sinn Féin from the 1986 split still use the term “Provisional Sinn Féin” to refer to the party led by Gerry Adams.
Sinn Féin was founded on 28 November 1905, when, at the first annual Convention of the National Council, Arthur Griffith outlined the Sinn Féin policy, “to establish in Ireland’s capital a national legislature endowed with the moral authority of the Irish nation”. Sinn Féin contested the North Leitrim by-election, 1908, and secured 27% of the vote. Thereafter, both support and membership fell. At the 1910 Ard Fheis (party conference) the attendance was poor and there was difficulty finding members willing to take seats on the executive.
In 1914, Sinn Féin members, including Griffith, joined the anti-Redmond Irish Volunteers, which was referred to byRedmondites and others as the “Sinn Féin Volunteers”. Although Griffith himself did not take part in the Easter Rising of 1916, many Sinn Féin members, who were also members of both the Volunteers and the Irish Republican Brotherhood, did. Government and newspapers dubbed the Rising “the Sinn Féin Rising”. After the Rising, republicans came together under the banner of Sinn Féin, and at the 1917 Ard Fheis the party committed itself for the first time to the establishment of an Irish Republic. In the 1918 general election, Sinn Féin won 73 of Ireland’s 105 seats, and in January 1919, its MPs assembled in Dublin and proclaimed themselves Dáil Éireann, the parliament of Ireland. The party supported the Irish Republican Army during the War of Independence, and members of the Dáil government negotiated the Anglo-Irish Treatywith the British Government in 1921. In the Dáil debates that followed, the party divided on the Treaty. Anti-Treaty members led by Éamon de Valera walked out, and pro- and anti-Treaty members took opposite sides in the ensuing Civil War.
Pro-Treaty Dáil deputies and other Treaty supporters formed a new party,Cumann na nGaedheal, on 27 April 1923 at a meeting in Dublin where delegates agreed on a constitution and political programme. Cumann na nGaedheal governed the new Irish Free State for ten years. It merged with two other organisations to form Fine Gael in 1933. Anti-Treaty Sinn Féin members continued to boycott the Dáil. At a special Ard Fheis in March 1926 de Valera proposed that elected members be allowed to take their seats in the Dáil if and when the controversial Oath of Allegiance was removed. When his motion was defeated, de Valera resigned from Sinn Féin and on 16 May 1926 founded his own party, Fianna Fáil, which was dedicated to republicanising the Free State from within its political structures. He took most Sinn Féin TDs with him. De Valera’s resignation meant also the loss of financial support from America. The rump Sinn Féin party could field no more than fifteen candidates, and won only six seats in the June election, a level of support not seen since before 1916. Vice-President and de facto leader Mary MacSwiney announced that the party simply did not have the funds to contest the second election called that year, declaring “no true Irish citizen can vote for any of the other parties”.
An attempt in the 1940s to access funds which had been put in the care of the High Court led to the Sinn Féin Funds case, which the party lost and in which the judge ruled that it was not the direct successor of the Sinn Féin of 1917. At theWestminister 1959 general election, the Sinn Féin vote dropped almost 60% from the 1955 number 152,000 to 63,000.In the 1960s, Sinn Féin moved to the left and became involved in campaigns over the provision of housing and social services. It also adopted a “National Liberation Strategy” which was the brainchild of Roy Johnston. In 1967 the GarlandCommission was set up to investigate the possibility of ending abstentionism. Its report angered many traditionalists within the party, notably Seán Mac Stíofáin and Ruairí Ó Brádaigh.
The Sinn Féin party split in two at the beginning of 1970. At the party’s Ard Fheis on 11 January the proposal to end abstentionism and take seats, if elected, in the Dáil, the Parliament of Northern Ireland and the Parliament of the United Kingdom was put before the members. A similar motion had been adopted at an IRA convention the previous month, leading to the formation of a Provisional Army Council by Mac Stíofáin and other members opposed to the leadership. When the motion was put to the Ard Fheis, it failed to achieve the necessary two-thirds majority. The Executive attempted to circumvent this by introducing a motion in support of IRA policy, at which point the dissenting delegates walked out of the meeting. These members reconvened at another place, appointed a Caretaker Executive and pledged allegiance to the Provisional Army Council. The Caretaker Executive declared itself opposed to the ending of abstentionism, the drift towards “extreme forms of socialism”, the failure of the leadership to defend the nationalist people of Belfast during the 1969 Northern Ireland riots, and the expulsion of traditional republicans by the leadership during the 1960s. At its October 1970 Ard Fheis, delegates were informed that an IRA convention had been held and had regularised its structure, bringing to an end the ‘provisional’ period. By then, however, the label “Provisional” or “Provo” was already being applied to them by the media. The opposing, anti-abstentionist party became known as “Official Sinn Féin”. It changed its name in 1977 to “Sinn Féin, the Workers’ Party”, and in 1982 to “The Workers’ Party“.
Because the “Provisionals” were committed to military rather than political action, Sinn Féin’s initial membership was largely confined, in Danny Morrison‘s words, to people “over military age or women”. A Belfast Sinn Féin organiser of the time described the party’s role as “agitation and publicity”. New cumainn (branches) were established in Belfast, and a new newspaper, Republican News, was published. Sinn Féin took off as a protest movement after the introduction ofinternment in August 1971, organising marches and pickets. The party launched its platform, Éire Nua (a New Ireland) at the 1971 Ard Fheis. In general, however, the party lacked a distinct political philosophy. In the words of Brian Feeney, “Ó Brádaigh would use Sinn Féin ard fheiseanna to announce republican policy, which was, in effect, IRA policy, namely that Britain should leave the North or the ‘war’ would continue”. Sinn Féin was given a concrete presence in the community when the IRA declared a ceasefire in 1975. ‘Incident centres’ were set up to communicate potential confrontations to the British authorities. They were manned by Sinn Féin, which had been legalised the year before by Secretary of State, Merlyn Rees.
Political status for prisoners became an issue after the ending of the truce. Rees released the last of the internees but introduced the Diplock courts, and ended ‘Special Category Status‘ for all prisoners convicted after 1 March 1976. This led first to the blanket protest, and then to the dirty protest . Around the same time, Gerry Adams began writing forRepublican News, calling for Sinn Féin to become more involved politically . Over the next few years, Adams and those aligned with him would extend their influence throughout the republican movement and slowly marginalise Ó Brádaigh, part of a general trend of power in both Sinn Féin and the IRA shifting north. In particular, Ó’Brádaigh’s part in the 1975 IRA ceasefire had damaged his reputation in the eyes of Ulster republicans.
The prisoners’ protest climaxed with the 1981 hunger strike, during which striker Bobby Sands was elected Member of Parliament for Fermanagh and South Tyrone as an Anti H-Block candidate. After his death on hunger strike, his seat was held, with an increased vote, by his election agent, Owen Carron. These successes convinced republicans that they should contest every election. Danny Morrison expressed the mood at the 1981 Ard Fheis when he said:
- “Who here really believes we can win the war through the ballot box? But will anyone here object if, with a ballot paper in this hand and an Armalite in the other, we take power in Ireland?”.
This was the origin of what became known as the Armalite and ballot box strategy. Éire Nua was dropped in 1982, and the following year Ó Brádaigh stepped down as leader, and was replaced by Adams.
Under Adams’ leadership electoral politics became increasingly important. In 1983 Alex Maskey was elected to Belfast City Council, the first Sinn Féin member to sit on that body. Sinn Féin polled over 100,000 votes in the Westminster electionsthat year, and Adams won the West Belfast seat that had been held by the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP).By 1985 it had fifty-nine seats on seventeen of the twenty-six Northern Ireland councils, including seven on Belfast City Council.
The party began a reappraisal of the policy of abstention from the Dáil. At the 1983 Ard Fheis the constitution was amended to remove the ban on the discussion of abstentionism to allow Sinn Féin to run a candidate in the forthcoming European elections. However, in his address Adams said, “We are an abstentionist party. It is not my intention to advocate change in this situation.” A motion to permit entry into the Dáil was allowed at the 1985 Ard Fheis, but without the active support of the leadership, and Adams did not speak. The motion failed narrowly. By October of the following year an IRA Convention had indicated its support for elected Sinn Féin Teachtaí Dála (TDs) taking their seats. Thus, when the motion to end abstention was put to the Ard Fheis on 1 November 1986, it was clear that there would not be a split in the IRA as there had been in 1970. The motion was passed with a two-thirds majority. Ó Brádaigh and about twenty other delegates walked out, and met in a Dublin hotel with hundreds of supporters to re-organise as Republican Sinn Féin.
Tentative negotiations between Sinn Féin and the British government led to more substantive discussions with the SDLP in the 1990s. Multi-party negotiations began in 1994 in Northern Ireland, without Sinn Féin. The Provisional IRA declared a ceasefire in the autumn of 1994. Sinn Féin then joined the talks but the John Major-led Conservative government soon came to depend on unionist votes to remain in power. It suspended Sinn Féin from the talks and began to insist that the IRA decommission all of their weapons before Sinn Féin be re-admitted to the talks, leading to the IRA calling off its ceasefire. The new Labour government of Tony Blair wasn’t reliant on unionist votes and re-admitted Sinn Féin, leading to another, permanent, ceasefire.
The talks led to the Good Friday Agreement of 10 April 1998 (officially known as the Belfast Agreement), which set up an inclusive devolved government in the North, and altered the Dublin government’s constitutional claim to the whole island inArticles 2 and 3 of the Constitution of Ireland. Republicans opposed to the direction taken by Sinn Féin in the peace process formed the 32 County Sovereignty Movement in the late 1990s.
The party expelled Denis Donaldson, a party official, in December 2005, with him stating publicly that he had been in the employ of the British government as an agent since the 1980s. Donaldson told reporters that the British security agencies who employed him were behind the collapse of the Assembly and set up Sinn Féin to take the blame for it, a claim disputed by the British Government. Donaldson was found fatally shot in his home in County Donegal on 4 April 2006, and a murder inquiry was launched. In April 2009, the Real IRA released a statement taking responsibility for the killing.
When Sinn Féin and the DUP became the largest parties, by the terms of the Belfast Agreement no deal could be made without the support of both parties. They nearly reached a deal in November 2004, but the DUP insisted on photographic and/or video evidence that decommissioning had been carried out, which was unacceptable to Sinn Féin.
On 2 September 2006 Martin McGuinness publicly stated that Sinn Féin would refuse to participate in a shadow assembly at Stormont, asserting that his party would only take part in negotiations that were aimed at restoring a power-sharing government. This development followed a decision on the part of members of Sinn Féin to refrain from participating in debates since the Assembly’s recall the previous May. The relevant parties to these talks were given a deadline of 24 November 2006 to decide upon whether or not they would ultimately form the executive.
The 86-year Sinn Féin boycott of policing in Northern Ireland ended on 28 January 2007 when the Ard Fheis voted overwhelmingly to support the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). Sinn Féin members began to sit on Policing Boards and join District Policing Partnerships. There was opposition to this decision within Sinn Féin, and some members left, including elected representatives. The most well-known opponent was former IRA prisoner Gerry McGeough, who stood in the 2007 Assembly Elections against Sinn Féin in the Assembly constituency of Fermanagh and South Tyrone as an Independent Republican. Others who opposed this development splintered off to found the Republican Network for Unity.
Links with the IRA
Sinn Féin is the largest Irish republican political party and was closely associated with the Provisional IRA. The Irish Government alleged that senior members of Sinn Féin have held posts on the IRA Army Council. However, the SF leadership has denied these claims. The US Government has made similar allegations.
A republican document of the early 1980s stated: “Both Sinn Féin and the IRA play different but converging roles in the war of national liberation. The Irish Republican Army wages an armed campaign… Sinn Féin maintains the propaganda war and is the public and political voice of the movement”.
The British Government stated in 2005 that “we had always said all the way through we believed that Sinn Féin and the IRA were inextricably linked and that had obvious implications at leadership level”.
The Northern Bank robbery of £26.5 million in Belfast in December 2004 further delayed a political deal in Northern Ireland. The IRA were widely blamed for the robbery although Sinn Féin denied this and stated that party officials had not known of the robbery nor sanctioned it. Because of the timing of the robbery, it is considered that the plans for the robbery must have been laid whilst Sinn Féin was engaged in talks about a possible peace settlement. This undermined confidence among unionists about the sincerity of republicans towards reaching agreement. In the aftermath of the row over the robbery, a further controversy erupted when, on RTÉ‘s Questions and Answers programme, the chairman of Sinn Féin,Mitchel McLaughlin, insisted that the IRA’s controversial killing of a mother of ten young children, Jean McConville, in the early 1970s though “wrong”, was not a crime, as it had taken place in the context of the political conflict. Politicians from the Republic, along with the Irish media strongly attacked McLaughlin’s comments.
On 10 February 2005, the government-appointed Independent Monitoring Commission reported that it firmly supported the PSNI and Garda Síochána assessments that the IRA was responsible for the Northern Bank robbery and that certain senior members of Sinn Féin were also senior members of the IRA and would have had knowledge of and given approval to the carrying out of the robbery. Sinn Féin have argued that the IMC is not independent and the inclusion of former Alliance Party Leader John Alderdice and a British security head was proof of this. The IMC recommended further financial sanctions against Sinn Féin members of the Northern Ireland Assembly. The British government responded by saying it would ask MPs to vote to withdraw the parliamentary allowances of the four Sinn Féin MPs elected in 2001.
On 20 February 2005, Irish Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Michael McDowell publicly accused three of the Sinn Féin leadership, Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and Martin Ferris (TD for Kerry North) of being on the seven-manIRA Army Council which they later denied.
On 27 February 2005, a demonstration against the murder of Robert McCartney on 30 January 2005 was held in East Belfast. Alex Maskey, a former Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Belfast, was told by relatives of McCartney to “hand over the 12” IRA members involved. The McCartney family, although formerly Sinn Féin voters themselves, urged witnesses to the crime to contact the PSNI. Three IRA men were expelled from the organisation, and a man was charged with McCartney’s murder.
Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern subsequently called Sinn Féin and the IRA “both sides of the same coin”. The official ostracism of Sinn Féin was shown in February 2005 when Dáil Éireann passed a motion condemning the party’s alleged involvement in illegal activity. US President George W. Bush and Senator Edward Kennedy refused to meet Gerry Adams while meeting the family of Robert McCartney.
On 10 March 2005, the British House of Commons in London passed a motion placed by the British Government to withdraw the allowances of the four Sinn Féin MPs for one year in response to the Northern Bank Robbery without significant opposition. This measure cost the party approximately £400,000. However, the debate prior to the vote mainly surrounded the more recent events connected with the murder of Robert McCartney. Conservatives and unionists put down amendments to have the Sinn Féin MPs evicted from their offices at the House of Commons but these were defeated.
In March 2005, Mitchell Reiss, the United States special envoy to Northern Ireland, condemned the party’s links to the IRA, saying “it is hard to understand how a European country in the year 2005 can have a private army associated with a political party”.
The October 2015 Assessment on Paramilitary Groups in Northern Ireland concluded that the Provisional IRA still exists “in a much reduced form” and that some IRA members believe its Army Council oversees both the PIRA and Sinn Féin.
Policy and ideology
Most of the party’s policies are intended to be implemented on an ‘all-Ireland’ basis which further emphasises their central aim of creating a united Ireland.
Sinn Féin currently is considered a democratic socialist or left-wing party. In theEuropean parliament, the party aligns itself with the European United Left–Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) parliamentary group. The party pledges support for minority rights, migrants’ rights, and eradicating poverty. Although it is not in favour of the extension of legalised abortion (British 1967 Act) to Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin state they are opposed to the attitudes in society which “pressurise women” to have abortions and “criminalise” women who make this decision. The party does state that in cases of incest, rape, sexual abuse, “fatal foetal abnormalities”, or when a woman’s life and health are at risk or in danger that the final decision must rest with the woman.
Sinn Féin has been considered to be Eurosceptic. The party campaigned for a “No” vote in the referendum on joining the European Economic Community in 1972. The party was critical for the need of an EU constitution as proposed in 2002, and urged a “No” vote in the 2008 referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, although Mary Lou McDonald said that there was “no contradiction in being pro-Europe but anti-treaty.” In its manifesto for the 2015 UK general election, Sinn Féin pledged that the party would campaign for the UK to stay within the European Union (EU), Martin McGuinness saying that an exit “would be absolutely economically disastrous”. Gerry Adams said that if there were to be a referendum on the question, there ought to be a separate and binding referendum for Northern Ireland. Its policy of a “Europe of Equals”, and its critical engagement after 2001, together with as its engagement with the European Parliament, marks a change from the party’s previous opposition to the EU. The party expresses, on one hand, “support for Europe-wide measures that promote and enhance human rights, equality and the all-Ireland agenda“, and on the other a “principled opposition” to aEuropean superstate.
Social and cultural
Sinn Féin’s main political goal is a united Ireland. Other key policies from their most recent election manifesto are listed below:
- The 18 Northern Ireland MPs that sit or have sat in the Parliament of the United Kingdom to be allowed to sit in the Dáil Éireann as full Deputies as well
- Ending academic selection within the education system
- Support for a ‘Minister for Children’
- Diplomatic pressure to close Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant (in Britain)
- A draft Irish Language Bill for Northern Ireland (Acht na Gaeilge), a Bill that would give the Irish Language the same status that the Welsh language has in Wales
- ‘Plastic bag levy‘ to be extended to Northern Ireland
- To further Irish language teaching in Northern Ireland,
- Same-sex marriage to be extended to Northern Ireland
- Increase in capital gains tax and deposit interest retention tax
- A cap on public sector pay at three times the average worker’s wage
- A cap on the salaries of TDs and government ministers
- Standardisation of discretionary tax reliefs
- Greater state investment in the economy
- Reducing mortgage interest tax relief for landlords and property-based tax reliefs
- Establishment of a government fund to aid small and medium enterprises
- An ‘all-Ireland’ economy with a common currency and one tax policy
- Greater investment for those who are disabled
- An ‘All-Ireland-Health-Service’ akin to the National Health Service of the United Kingdom,
- Cap on consultants’ pay
- Abolishment of prescription charges for medical card patients
- Expansion of primary care centres
- Gradual removal of subsidies of private practice in public hospitals and the introduction of a charge for practitioners for the use of public equipment and staff in their private practice
- Free breast screening (to check for breast cancer) of all women over forty
Sinn Féin is organised throughout Ireland, and membership is open to all Irish residents over the age of 16. The party is organised hierarchically into cumainn (branches), comhairle ceantair (district executives), cúigí (regional executives). At national level, the Coiste Seasta (Standing Committee) oversees the day-to-day running of Sinn Féin. It is an eight-member body nominated by the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle (National Executive) and also includes the chairperson of each cúige. The Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle meets at least once a month. It directs the overall implementation of Sinn Féin policy and activities of the party.
The Ard Chomhairle also oversees the operation of various departments of Sinn Féin, viz Administration, Finance, National Organiser, Campaigns, Sinn Féin Republican Youth, Women’s Forum, Culture, Publicity and International Affairs. It is made up of the following: Officer Board and nine other members, all of whom are elected by delegates to the Ard Fheis, fifteen representing the five Cúige regions (three delegates each). The Ard Chomhairle can co-opt eight members for specific posts and additional members can be co-opted, if necessary, to ensure that at least thirty per cent of Ard Chomhairle members are women.
The Ardfheis (national delegate conference) is the ultimate policy-making body of the party where delegates – directly elected by members of cumainn – can decide on and implement policy. It is held at least once a year but a special Ard Fheis can be called by the Ard Chomhairle or the membership under special circumstances.
Ard Chomhairle Officer Board
- President: Gerry Adams
- Vice-President: Mary Lou McDonald
- Chairperson: Declan Kearney
- General Secretary: Dawn Doyle
- Director of Publicity: Sean Mac Brádaigh
- Treasurers: Rita O’Hare and Maurice Quinlivan
Leadership Members elected at the Ard Fhéis 2012
|Éamon de Valera||1917–1926||Resigned from Sinn Féin and formed Fianna Fáil in 1926|
|John J. O’Kelly(Sceilg)||1926–1931|
|Fr. Michael O’Flanagan||1933–1935|
|Cathal Ó Murchadha||1935–1937|
|Tomás Ó Dubhghaill||1952–1954|
|Tomás Mac Giolla||1962–1970||From 1970 was president of Official Sinn Féin, renamed The Workers’ Party in 1982|
|Ruairí Ó Brádaigh||1970–1983||Left Sinn Féin and formed Republican Sinn Féin in 1986.|
Ministers and spokespeople
Northern Ireland Assembly
- See also: Executive of the 5th Northern Ireland Assembly, Northern Ireland Assembly, Members of the 5th Northern Ireland Assembly
|Assembly Group Leader||Carál Ní Chuilín MLA|
|Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland||Martin McGuinness MLA|
|Junior Minister at the Executive Office||Megan Fearon MLA|
|Minister of Finance||Máirtín Ó Muilleoir MLA|
|Minister of Health||Michelle O’Neill MLA|
|Minister for Infrastructure||Chris Hazzard MLA|
|Seanad Group Leader
Trade Union Outreach/Workers Rights and Political Reform
Junior Spokesperson for Jobs and Enterprise
|Senator David Cullinane|
|Gaeltacht, Irish Language and Rural Affairs
Junior Spokesperson for Justice, Equality and Defence
|Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh|
|Youth Affairs, European Affairs and All-Ireland Economy||Senator Kathryn Reilly|
- See also: Eighth European Parliament, European Parliament, Members of the European Parliament, 2014–19
|European Parliamentary Group Leader
Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs; Relations with Palestine
|Martina Anderson MEP|
|Environment, Public Health and Food||Lynn Boylan MEP|
|Agriculture and Rural Development; Relations with the United States||Matt Carthy MEP|
|Budgets; Fisheries; Relations with the People’s Republic of China||Liadh Ní Riada MEP|
General election results
Devolved legislature elections
|Election||Body||Seats won||±||Position||First preference votes||%||Government||Leader|
|1921||House of Commons||
6 / 52
|6||2nd||104,917||20.5%||Abstention||Éamon de Valera|
5 / 78
|5||5th||64,191||10.1%||Abstention||Ruairí Ó Brádaigh|
17 / 110
18 / 108
|18||4th||142,858||17.7%||Power-sharing (UUP-SDLP-DUP-SF)||Gerry Adams|
24 / 108
|6||3rd||162,758||23.5%||Direct Rule||Gerry Adams|
28 / 108
|4||2nd||180,573||26.2%||Power-sharing (DUP-SF-SDLP-UUP-AP)||Gerry Adams|
29 / 108
|1||2nd||178,224||26.3%||Power-sharing (DUP-SF-UUP-SDLP-AP)||Gerry Adams|
28 / 108
|1||2nd||166,785||24.0%||Power-sharing (DUP-SF)||Gerry Adams|
|Election||Seats (in NI)||±||Position||Total votes||% (in NI)||% (in UK)||Government||Leader|
0 / 13
|None||34,181||0.2%||No seats||Éamon de Valera|
0 / 12
|None||23,362||0.1%||No seats||Margaret Buckley|
2 / 12
0 / 12
|2||None||63,415||0.2%||No seats||Paddy McLogan|
1 / 17
|1||8th||102,701||13.4%||0.3%||Abstention||Ruairí Ó Brádaigh|
1 / 17
0 / 17
|1||None||78,291||10.0%||0.2%||No seats||Gerry Adams|
2 / 18
4 / 18
5 / 18
5 / 18
4 / 18
Sinn Féin returned to Northern Ireland elections at the 1982 Assembly elections, winning five seats with 64,191 votes (10.1%). The party narrowly missed winning additional seats in Belfast North and Fermanagh and South Tyrone. In the1983 Westminster elections eight months later Sinn Féin increased its support, breaking the hundred thousand vote barrier in Northern Ireland for the first time by polling 102,701 votes (13.4%). Gerry Adams won the Belfast West constituency with Danny Morrison only 78 votes short of victory in Mid Ulster.
By the beginning of 1985, Sinn Féin had won their first representation on local councils due to three by-election wins in Omagh (Seamus Kerr, May 1983) and Belfast (Alex Maskey in June 1983 and Sean McKnight in March 1984). Three sitting councillors also defected to Sinn Féin in Dungannon, Fermanagh and Derry (the last defecting from the SDLP).Sinn Féin succeeded in winning 59 seats in the 1985 local government elections, after it had predicted winning only 40 seats. However, the results continued to show a decline from the peak of 1983 as the party won 75,686 votes (11.8%).The party failed to gain any seats in the 1986 by-elections caused by the resignation of unionist MPs in protest at the Anglo-Irish Agreement. While this was partly due to an electoral pact between unionist candidates, the SF vote fell in the four constituencies they contested.
In the 1987 election Gerry Adams held his Belfast West seat but the party failed to make breakthroughs elsewhere and overall polled 83,389 votes (11.4%). The same year saw the party contest the Dáil election in the Republic of Ireland, however they failed to win any seats and polled less than 2%.
The 1989 local government elections saw a drop in support for Sinn Féin. Defending 58 seats (the 59 won in 1985 plus two 1987 by-election gains in West Belfast minus three councillors who had defected to Republican Sinn Féin in 1986) the party lost 15 seats. In the aftermath of the election Mitchell McLaughlin admitted that recent IRA activity had affected the Sinn Féin vote.
In the 1989 European elections, candidate Danny Morrison again failed to win a seat, polling at 48,914 votes (9%).
The nadir for SF in this period came in 1992, with Gerry Adams losing his Belfast West seat to the SDLP and the SF vote falling in the other constituencies that they had contested relative to 1987.
In the 1997 British General Election, Gerry Adams regained his Belfast West seat. Martin McGuinness also won a seat inMid Ulster. In Irish elections the same year the party won its first seat since the 1957 elections with Caoimhghín Ó Caoláingaining a seat in the Cavan-Monaghan constituency. In the Irish local elections in 1999 the party increased its number of councillors from 7 to 23.
The party overtook its nationalist rival, the Social Democratic and Labour Party as the largest nationalist party in the 2001 Westminster general election and local elections, winning four Westminster seats to the SDLP’s three. The party continues to subscribe, however, to an abstentionist policy towards the Westminster British parliament, on account of opposing that parliament’s jurisdiction in Northern Ireland, as well as its oath to the Queen.
Sinn Féin increased its share of the nationalist vote in the 2003, 2007, and 2011 Assembly elections, with Martin McGuinness, former Minister for Education, taking the post of deputy First Minister in the Northern Ireland power-sharing Executive Committee. The party has three ministers in the Executive Committee.
In the 2010 General Election, the party retained its five seats, and for the first time topped the poll at a Westminster Election in Northern Ireland, winning 25.5% of the vote. All Sinn Féin MPs increased their share of the vote and with the exception of Fermanagh and South Tyrone, increased their majorities. In Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Unionistparties agreed a joint candidate, this resulted in the closest contest of the election, with Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew holding her seat by 4 votes after 3 recounts and an election petition challenging the result.
Republic of Ireland
Dáil Éireann elections
|Election||Seats won||±||Position||First Pref votes||%||Government||Leader|
73 / 105
|73||1st||476,087||46.9%||Aireacht Gov’t||Éamon de Valera|
124 / 128
|51||1st||–||–||Aireacht Gov’t||Éamon de Valera|
58 / 128
|N/A||1st||239,195||38.5%||Minority Gov’t||Michael Collins
36 / 128
|N/A||2nd||135,310||21.8%||Abstention||Éamon de Valera
44 / 153
|8||2nd||288,794||27.4%||Abstention||Éamon de Valera|
5 / 153
|39||6th||41,401||3.6%||Abstention||John J. O’Kelly|
0 / 147
|None||1,990||0.1%||No Seats||Tomás Ó Dubhghaill|
4 / 147
0 / 144
|4||None||36,396||3.1%||No Seats||Paddy McLogan|
0 / 166
|None||16,894||1.0%||No Seats||Ruairí Ó Brádaigh|
0 / 166
|None||32,933||1.9%||No Seats||Gerry Adams|
0 / 166
|None||20,003||1.2%||No Seats||Gerry Adams|
0 / 166
|None||27,809||1.6%||No Seats||Gerry Adams|
1 / 166
5 / 166
4 / 166
14 / 166
23 / 158
The party had five TDs elected in the 2002 Republic general election, an increase of four from the previous election. At thegeneral election in 2007 the party had expectations of substantial gains, with poll predictions that they would gain five to ten seats. However, the party lost one of its seats to Fine Gael. Seán Crowe, who had topped the poll inDublin South–West fell to fifth place, with his first preference vote reduced from 20.28% to 12.16%.
On 26 November 2010, Pearse Doherty won a seat in the Donegal South–West by-election. It was the party’s first by-election victory in the Republic of Ireland since 1925. After negotiations with the left wing Independent TDs Finian McGrath and Maureen O’Sullivan, a Technical Group was formed in the Dáil to give its members more speaking time.
In the 2011 Irish General Election the party made gains. All its sitting TDs were returned with Seán Crowe regaining the seat in Dublin South–West he lost in 2007. In addition to winning long time targeted seats such as Dublin Central and Dublin North–West the party gained unexpected seats in Cork East and Sligo–North Leitrim. It ultimately won 14 seats, the best performance for the party’s current incarnation. The party went on to win three seats in the Seanad election which followed their success at the General Election.
Local Government elections
|Election||Country||First Preference Vote||Vote %||Seats|
|1974||Republic of Ireland||–||–||
7 / 802
|1979||Republic of Ireland||–||–||
11 / 798
59 / 565
|1985||Republic of Ireland||46,391||3.3%||–|
43 / 565
|1991||Republic of Ireland||29,054||2.1%||
8 / 883
51 / 582
74 / 575
|1999||Republic of Ireland||49,192||3.5%||
21 / 883
108 / 582
|2004||Republic of Ireland||146,391||8.0%||
54 / 883
126 / 582
|2009||Republic of Ireland||138,405||7.4%||
54 / 883
138 / 583
105 / 462
|2014||Republic of Ireland||258,650||15.2%||
159 / 949
Sinn Féin is represented on most county and city councils. It made large gains in the local elections of 2004, increasing its number of councillors from 21 to 54, and replacing the Progressive Democrats as the fourth-largest party in local government. At the local elections of June 2009, the party’s vote fell by 0.95% to 7.34%, with no change in the number of seats. Losses in Dublin and urban areas were balanced by gains in areas such as Limerick, Wicklow, Cork, Tipperary and Kilkenny and the border counties . However, three of Sinn Féin’s seven representatives on Dublin City Councilresigned within six months of the June 2009 elections, one of them defecting to the Labour Party.
|Election||Country||First Preference Vote||Vote %||Seats|
0 / 3
|Republic of Ireland||54,672||4.9%||
0 / 15
0 / 3
|Republic of Ireland||35,923||2.2%||
0 / 15
0 / 3
|Republic of Ireland||33,823||3.0%||
0 / 15
0 / 3
|Republic of Ireland||88,165||6.3%||
0 / 15
1 / 3
|Republic of Ireland||197,715||11.1%||
1 / 13
1 / 3
|Republic of Ireland||205,613||11.2%||
0 / 12
1 / 3
|Republic of Ireland||323,300||19.5%||
3 / 11
In the 2004 European Parliament election, Bairbre de Brún won Sinn Féin’s first seat in the European Parliament, at the expense of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). She came in second behind Jim Allister, then of theDemocratic Unionist Party (DUP). In the 2009 election, de Brún was re-elected with 126,184 first preference votes, the only candidate to reach the quota on the first count. This was the first time since elections began in 1979 that the DUP failed to take the first seat, and was the first occasion Sinn Féin topped a poll in any Northern Ireland election.
Sinn Féin made a breakthrough in the Dublin constituency in 2004. The party’s candidate, Mary Lou McDonald, was elected on the sixth count as one of four MEPs for Dublin, effectively taking the seat of Patricia McKenna of the Green Party. In the 2009 election, when Dublin’s representation was reduced to three MEPs, she failed to hold her seat. In the South constituency their candidate, Councillor Toireasa Ferris, managed to nearly double the number of first preference votes,lying third after the first count, but failed to get enough transfers to win a seat.
In the 2014 election, Martina Anderson topped the poll in Northern Ireland, as did Lynn Boylan in Dublin. Liadh Ní Riadawas elected in the South constituency, and Matt Carthy in Midlands–North-West.
Alliance Party of Northern Ireland
|Leader||David Ford MLA|
|Deputy Leader||Naomi Long MLA|
|President||Cllr Andrew Muir|
|Chairperson||Cllr Neil Kelly|
|Founded||21st April 1970|
|Merger of||Ulster Liberal Party
New Ulster Movement
|Headquarters||88 University Street
Belfast BT7 1HE
|Youth wing||Alliance Youth|
|LGBT wing||Alliance LGBT+|
|International affiliation||Liberal International|
|House of Commons
0 / 18
|House of Lords||
0 / 807
0 / 3
8 / 108
|NI Local Councils||
32 / 462
The Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) (Irish: Páirtí Comhghuaillíochta Thuaisceart Éireann; Ulster Scots: Alliance Pairtie o Norlin Airlann) is a liberal and centrist political party in Northern Ireland. It is Northern Ireland’s fifth-largest party overall, with eight seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Founded in 1970 from the New Ulster Movement, the Alliance Party originally represented moderate and non-sectarian unionism. However, over time, particularly in the 1990s, it moved towards neutrality on the Union, and has come to represent wider liberal and non-sectarian concerns. It opposes theconsociational power-sharing mandated by the Good Friday Agreement as deepening the sectarian divide, and, in the Northern Ireland Assembly, it is designated as neither unionist nor Irish nationalist, but ‘Other’.
In general election in May 2010 the Alliance Party won their first House of Commons seat in a UK-wide general election, in the Belfast East constituency, unseating Peter Robinson, First Minister of Northern Ireland and leader of theDemocratic Unionist Party (DUP). Naomi Long was the first MP from the Alliance Party since Stratton Mills, who joined the party from the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) in 1973. However, the DUP regained the seat at the 2015 general election, leaving the Alliance Party with no representation in the House of Commons.
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It was formed in April 1970 as an alternative to the established parties. In the context of a rapidly worsening political crisis, the party aimed not only to present an alternative to what they perceived as sectarian parties, but to make sure that the primary policy of the party was in contrast to the Northern Ireland Labour Party and Ulster Liberal Party. Alliance expressly aimed, at first, to act as a bridge between the Protestant and Catholic sections of the community, with a secondary goal of attracting support from Northern Ireland’s Jewish community and its small but steadily growing Asian (Chinese, Indian, Pakistani) population, most of whom are neither Catholic nor Protestant. The Party’s founding principles were expressly in favour of Northern Ireland remaining part of the United Kingdom, although in contrast to other unionist parties, this was expressed in socio-economic rather than ethnic terms. It also placed great emphasis on the consent principle and therefore its support for Northern Ireland’s position within the UK was conditional on a majority wanting this.
The party was boosted in 1972 when three Members of the Parliament of Northern Ireland joined the party (one from theNationalist Party, one from the UUP and one Independent). Stratton Mills, an Ulster Unionist/Conservative member of theWestminster Parliament for North Belfast also joined, providing Alliance with its only House of Commons representation until 2010. Its first electoral challenge was the District Council elections of May 1973 when they managed to win a respectable 13.6% of the votes cast. In the elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly which followed the next month the party polled 9.2% and won eight seats. The then party leader, Oliver Napier and his deputy Bob Cooper became part of the short-lived power-sharing executive body. Alliance’s vote peaked in the 1977 local elections when it obtained 14.4% of the vote and had 74 Councillors elected. In 1979, Party Leader Oliver Napier came closer than Alliance had previously come to electing a Westminster MP, polling just 928 votes short of Peter Robinson‘s winning total in East Belfast, albeit placing third in a three-way marginal.
Stabilisation and decline
Alliance was seriously damaged by the 1981 Irish Hunger Strike, which deeply polarised Northern Ireland politics, and led to the emergence of Sinn Féin as a serious political force. The party supported the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement, and despite claims that this would fatally damage its soft unionist support, Alliance rebounded to pick up 10.0% of the vote in the 1987 United Kingdom general election, with some voters rejecting the tacit mainstream unionist support for violence in the aftermath of the Agreement.
New leader, John Alderdice, polled 32.0% of the vote in East Belfast, while Alliance came within 15,000 votes of both theDemocratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Féin across Northern Ireland. In 1988, in Alliance’s keynote post-Anglo Irish Agreement document, Governing with Consent, Alderdice called for a devolved power-sharing government. Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, Alliance’s vote stabilised at between 7% and 10%. After the IRA and loyalist ceasefires in 1994, Alliance became the first non-nationalist party to enter into talks with Sinn Féin, as an active participant in the Northern Ireland peace process negotiations leading to the Good Friday Agreement, which it strongly supported. Alliance polled poorly in the 1996 elections for the Northern Ireland Forum, and the 1998 election for the Northern Ireland Assemblywinning around 6.5% of the vote each time. This did enable the party to win six seats in the Assembly, although this was somewhat of a let-down given that it had been expected to do much better.
The Good Friday Agreement era
John Alderdice resigned as party leader in 1998 to take up the post of the Assembly’s Presiding Officer. He was replaced bySeán Neeson, who himself resigned as party leader in September 2001. Neeson was replaced by current party leaderDavid Ford, a member of the Assembly for South Antrim.
It was predicted that Alliance would suffer electorally as a new centrist challenger established itself in Northern Irish politics, the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition. Another problem for the APNI was that the rules of the Assembly require major votes (such as the election of the First Minister and deputy First Minister) to have the support of both a majority of unionist and nationalist MLAs, thus diminishing the importance of parties such as Alliance which are not aligned to either of these two blocs.
In the 2003 Assembly elections, Alliance held all their seats, while the Women’s Coalition lost both of theirs. Alliance’s vote fell to just 3.7%. In the European Parliament Elections in 2004, Alliance gave strong support to Independent candidate John Gilliland who polled 6.6% of the vote, the highest for a non-communal candidate in a European election since 1979. In the early years of the peace process, the centre ground was relentlessly squeezed in Northern Ireland politics. The support for Gilliland’s candidature, which was also supported by parties such as the Workers’ Party and Northern Ireland Conservatives, reflected a desire to reunite the fragmented and weakened non-communal bloc in Northern Ireland politics.
In the 5 May 2005 United Kingdom general election, they contested 12 seats and polled 3.9% of the vote. In the simultaneous elections to Northern Ireland’s local authorities, they polled 5.0% of first preference votes and had 30 Councillors elected, a gain of two seats relative to the previous elections.
In the 2007 Northern Ireland Assembly elections, Alliance put in a strong media campaign and polled 5.2%, up from 3.6% in the previous election and gaining a seat in Belfast South following the successful candidature of Anna Lo, the first ethnic Chinese public representative in a national assembly anywhere in Western Europe. In an election cycle where many pundits had predicted that the Alliance Party would struggle to hold on to the six seats it won in the 2003 election, the party pulled off a credible performance which included Deputy Leader Naomi Long doubling her share of the vote in Belfast East.
In 2008, during the deadlock between Sinn Féin and the DUP over the devolution of policing, the two parties came to an agreement that the Minister of Justice would not come from either party. The Alliance Party was the obvious choice but party leader David Ford said “it’s a very definite and a very emphatic no.” Ford further stated, “this executive is incompetent, it’s time they got on with doing the job that they were set up to do.” Following further negotiations, Ford assumed office on 12 April 2010.
In the 2010 general election, the party won its first seat in Westminster, with Naomi Long taking the seat of sitting First Minister Peter Robinson. The 2011 Northern Ireland Assembly Election resulted in eight Assembly members being returned with a gain in Belfast East. It overtook the UUP on Belfast City Council.
In a poll conducted in November 2012, Alliance (on 11.6%) overtook the UUP (11.4%) for the first time.
During the 2016 elections to the Assembly, in spite of initially confident predications from David Ford that Alliance would see a surplus of up to 11 seats, the party’s share of the popular vote stagnated somewhat, from 7.7% in 2011 to 7.0%. Ultimately, its 8 MLAs from their original respective constituencies were returned to Stormont for the fifth Assembly term.
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Over the past 40 years and particularly since the mid-1990s, Alliance’s political philosophy has veered away from non-sectarian unionism towards a more liberal, neutral position on the question of either a united Ireland or continued Union with Great Britain. While the Good Friday Agreement has attempted to implement consociational power-sharing, Alliance continues to argue that such enforced coalition government in Northern Ireland entrenches division rather than providing a basis for overcoming it.
The Alliance Party was founded on the back of efforts by the New Ulster Movement (NUM), which was established as a moderating influence upon the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). After Irish nationalist politicians withdrew their role as official Opposition at Stormont, and the resignation of UUP Prime Minister of Northern Ireland Terence O’Neill in 1969, the NUM split between those who wished to remain a pressure group for the UUP and those who saw reform only through the establishment of a new political party. The latter broke off and formed the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland on 21 April 1970.
As Alliance viewed the situation, the major problem of Northern Ireland was the division between Protestant and Catholic. It contended that the turmoil had its origins in that division and not in the partition of Ireland. “Partition was the result of the divisions and not the cause of them.” (John Cushnahan, 1979) The party’s founding members resolved to change the “traditional mould” of sectarian politics in Northern Ireland, by launching a party deliberately set out to win support from both sections of the population. The party’s founding principles were an attempt to address the “fundamental fears” of Protestants being coerced into a united Ireland, and of Catholics being condemned to a second-class citizenship within Northern Ireland.
The distinguishing feature of Alliance is its belief in the legitimacy of a distinctive Northern Ireland community, one that has more in common than what divides it, with most inhabitants speaking a common language, sharing some form of Christianity, and not separated by distinguishable racial or physical characteristics. “Its people are one community living in what has been called a place apart, but sharing a great deal with the rest of this island, the rest of these islands, and the rest of the developed world.” (Alliance 1992) Alliance does not view unionism and nationalism as distinct communities, but as “political positions.” Furthermore, Alliance sees identity as an individual matter, originating in historical contexts, producing unionist and nationalist traditions. Alliance is at times seen as representing a “third tradition”. “In the context of Northern Ireland it includes those who, whether in politics, culture, religion, or in private life have refused to be categorised as Orange or Green.” (Alliance 1992)
As Alliance have moved to an ideologically liberal perspective, and Northern Ireland society has become more diverse, support for diversity has become a key Alliance platform, with Anna Lo MLA elected as the first ethnically Chineseparliamentarian in Western Europe and the party promoting a number of openly gay spokespeople.
Regionalisation of Alliance’s vote
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Northern Ireland Council Seats
|Antrim and Newtownabbey||
4 / 40
|Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon||
0 / 40
8 / 40
|Causeway Coast and Glens||
1 / 40
|Derry and Strabane||
0 / 40
|Fermanagh and Omagh||
0 / 40
|Lisburn and Castlereagh||
7 / 40
|Mid and East Antrim||
3 / 40
0 / 40
|Newry, Mourne and Down||
2 / 41
|North Down and Ards||
7 / 40
One trend over time with Alliance’s vote is that in contrast to 1973, when Alliance support was dispersed across Northern Ireland, Alliance has increasingly polled best in the Greater Belfast hinterland. For example, the 1977 elections, while representing an overall increase for Alliance, masked a sharp decline in vote share in many Western councils. In the 12 councils covering the former counties of Londonderry, Tyrone, Armagh and Fermanagh their vote only rose in Omagh, it remained static in Magherafelt and fell in the other ten councils (these being Fermanagh, Dungannon, Cookstown, Strabane, Londonderry, Limavady, Coleraine, Newry & Mourne, Armagh and Craigavon.) Overall in these 12 councils the number of Alliance councillors fell from 18 in 1973 to ten in 1977. In contrast, in the rest of the region Alliance increased their number of councillors from 45 to 60.
The party won eight council seats across Belfast in 1985. Although that has now recovered to six (from three in 2001), the six are entirely from South and East Belfast. Both seats in the Falls Road area of West Belfast were lost after the death and resignation of their councillors there in 1987 while their seat in North Belfast was lost in 1993, regained four years later and lost again in 2001. In the neighbouring areas of Dunmurry Cross (Twinbrook/Dunmurry) and Macedon (Rathcoole) Alliance lost their councillors in 1989 and 1994 respectively; on the other hand, the party won three out of seven seats in Victoria in 2011, the first time since 1977 that the party had won three council seats in the same electoral area.
By 2005, the party had councillors in only half of Northern Ireland’s 18 constituencies. However, this rose to 13 in 2011 after gains in Coleraine, Craigavon, Down and elsewhere. Having had around 30 councillors for a decade, the party won 44 seats in 2011. In the 2010 elections, the Alliance gained the Westminster seat of Belfast East, and gained a 22.6% swing there; in 2011 it re-emphasised that result, winning two out of the six MLA seats available.
In 2014 the party gained one seat in the Belfast Council area, this coming in North Belfast when Nuala McAllister ousted Sinn Féin. Outside of the capital the party’s vote held up, and with the exception of Patrick Browne winning in Rowallen, there were no outstanding results.
In the 2015 Westminster elections the party directed their resources at retaining the East Belfast seat Naomi Long had gained from the DUP in 2010. The party lost the seat to the DUP by 2,500 votes, after a Unionist pact, whilst the Alliance vote increased by 6% across the constituency.
|Dungannon and South Tyrone||5.9||2.9||1.1||0.9|
|Newry and Mourne||13.5||8.3||3.6||1.0||2.0|
|Northern Ireland totals||13.7||14.4||8.9||7.0||6.9||7.6||6.6||5.1||5.0||7.4|
|Antrim and Newtownabbey||12.7|
|Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon||3.3|
|Causeway Coast and Glens||3.9|
|Derry and Strabane||1.6|
|Fermanagh and Omagh||1.7|
|Lisburn and Castlereagh||12|
|Mid and East Antrim||9.4|
|Newry, Mourne and Down||2.4|
|North Down and Ards||13.4|
|Northern Ireland totals||6.6|
Leaders of Alliance
|1||Oliver Napier and Bob Cooper||1970||1972|
- Stratton Mills — Belfast North, 1973–74 (defected from Ulster Unionists)
- Naomi Long — Belfast East, 2010–2015
Elected in the Northern Ireland Assembly election, 2016:
- Chris Lyttle – East Belfast
- Naomi Long – East Belfast
- David Ford – South Antrim
- Paula Bradshaw – Belfast South
- Trevor Lunn – Lagan Valley
- Stephen Farry – North Down
- Kellie Armstrong – Strangford
- Stewart Dickson – East Antrim
Alliance Youth is the youth and student movement of the Alliance Party. Alliance members who are under 31 years old automatically become members of Alliance Youth if they choose to share their details at registration. Alliance Youth is also responsible for overseeing Alliance Societies at Northern Ireland universities. Liberal Youth Northern Ireland does not organize in any of Northern Ireland’s Universities, encouraging members to become active within Alliance Youth societies.
Alliance Youth actively campaign on issues affecting young people, and aim to shape policy of the main party in these areas. Previous campaigns have focuesed on racism, child poverty, and human trafficking, as well as specific domestic issues facing young people, such as mental health care, tuition fees, sustainable transport, LGBT rights and homelessness.
The current executive is as follows:
|Chair||Cllr Patrick Brown|
|Vice Chair||Fia Cowan|
|Secretary & Treasurer||Néidín Hendron|
|Campaigns Officer||Jamie Woods|
|Equality Officer||Lizzie Daragh|
|Development Officer||Michael Nicholl|
|Media Officer||Craig Weir|
|QUB Alliance Chair (Joint)||Néidín Hendron|