1989 Northern Ireland local elections

Elections for local government were held in Northern Ireland in 1989, with candidates contesting 565 seats.

1989 Northern Ireland local elections

 1985 17 May 1989 1993 

All council seats
  First party Second party Third party
Seats won 194 121 110
Seat change 5 19 32

  Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
Party Sinn Féin Alliance Independent
Seats won 43 34 23
Seat change 16 4 14

Colours denote the winning party with outright control

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Northern Ireland
Interim bodies
See also


The elections took place after a turbulent period in Northern Irish politics. The signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA) in November 1985 had been followed by widespread protests by those in the Unionist community. In November 1985, the 18 Unionist controlled District Councils voted for a policy of adjournment in protest against the AIA and in February 1986 also refused to set the 'rates' (local government taxes). In September 1986 Unionist councillors considered but rejected the option of mass resignations but decided to continue to use council chambers as a forum to protest the agreement.[1]

One new development on the Unionist side was the entry into Northern Ireland politics of the Conservative Party which was joined by three sitting Unionist councillors.

On the Irish Republican side, the Irish Independence Party had disbanded following poor election results in 1985. Sinn Féin had split in 1986 over the issue of sitting in the Irish parliament, Dáil Éireann, if elected. The dissenting faction had formed Republican Sinn Féin (RSF). Three of the fifty nine councillors elected for Sinn Féin in 1985 joined this grouping.[2] The Remembrance Day bombing of 1987 had a negative impact on subsequent SF support.[3] Irish Republicanism was also affected by the passing of the Elected Authorities (Northern Ireland) Act 1989 which disqualified candidates who refused to sign a declaration renouncing:

"(a) any organisation that is for the time being a proscribed organisation specified in Schedule 2 to the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978: or
(b) acts of terrorism (that is to say, violence for political ends) connected with the affairs of Northern Ireland"

RSF refused to sign the declaration and thus their twenty three candidates became ineligible.[2]



Party[4] Councillors Votes
Total +/- % share Total
UUP 194 +5 31.3 193,064
SDLP 121 +19 21.0 129,557
DUP 110 -32 17.7 109,342
Sinn Féin 43 -16 11.2 69,032
Alliance 38 +4 6.9 42,646
Independent 23 +14 3.8 23,617
Independent Unionist 15 +7 2.6 15,804
Workers' Party 4 0 2.1 13,078
NI Conservatives 6 N/A 0.8 5,204
PUP 3 0 0.6 3,839
Ulster Democratic 1 +1 0.4 2,413
Protestant Unionist 1 0 0.3 1,879
Protestant 1 +1 0.3 1,754
Labour '87 1[5] N/A 0.2 1,433
UPUP 3 0 0.2 1,223
Independent Nationalist 0 -6 0.1 804
Ind. Conservative 1 N/A 0.1 752
Independent Democratic Unionist 0 0 0.1 585
Independent Loyalist 0 0 0.1 351
Green (NI) 0 0 0.1 329
Independent Labour 0 0 0.1 293
Communist Party 0 0 0.0 175
National Front 0 0 0.0 68

By council

The results were interpreted as "movement away from the extremes"[6] with the UUP and SDLP increasing their lead over their rivals in the DUP and Sinn Féin respectively. A total of eleven councils saw the two top posts shared by parties from either side of the political/sectarian divide.[6] The number of councils controlled by one party increased from two to six. The DUP retained control of Ballymena, with the UUP retained control of Banbridge and gained control of Antrim and Lisburn. The SDLP gained control of Down and Derry.

Party Candidate 1st Pref
PUP Hugh Smyth 2,533
Independent Unionist Elizabeth Seawright 1,408
UUP Fred Cobain 1,170
DUP Eric Smyth 1,006
Independent Unionist Joe Coggle 953
UUP Herbert Ditty 897
Independent W. B. Smith 717
DUP Ted Ashby 644
Independent Unionist Alfie Ferguson 509
Workers' Party Peter Cullen 367
Sinn Féin Joe Austin 240
Turnout 10,825
No change
Party Candidate 1st Pref
DUP Sammy Wilson 2,780
UUP Margaret Clarke 1,480
Alliance Mervyn Jones 1,296
Independent Unionist Dorothy Dunlop 1,179
UUP Reg Empey 864
DUP Frank Leslie 768
Sinn Féin Joe O'Donnell 629
Workers' Party S. Flanagan 541
DUP Jim Walker 493
UUP D. A. McNutt 420
DUP J. Norris 263
National Front S. McCullough 27
Turnout 11,248
Independent Unionist gain from Democratic Unionist
Party Candidate 1st Pref
Alliance John Alderdice 2,933
UUP Tommy Patton 2,845
UUP Ian Adamson 1,730
DUP Wallace Browne 1,374
DUP Robin Newton 1,171
UUP A. F. H. Montgomery 767
Alliance Danny Dow 732
DUP I. Lewis 667
Alliance G. P. C. Thompson 533
Independent S. J. Walker 449
Workers' Party H. Jordan 333
Turnout 13,901
No change
Party Candidate 1st Pref
UUP Margaret Crooks 2,163
UUP Jim Kirkpatrick 1,818
SDLP Dorita Field 1,636
DUP Joan Parkes 1,602
Independent Unionist Billy Dickson 1,177
Alliance Mark Long 1,105
Alliance John Montgomery 1,061
DUP C. Bingham 599
Workers' Party Shaun McKeown 243
Turnout 12,160
Alliance gain from Democratic Unionist
Party Candidate 1st Pref
SDLP Alban Maginness 2,301
UUP John Carson 2,192
Independent Unionist Frank Millar 1,835
DUP Nigel Dodds 1,779
Independent Unionist Nelson McCausland 1,163
Alliance Tom Campbell 1,053
UUP Alfie Redpath 767
Workers' Party A. Kerr 496
Sinn Féin Bobby Lavery 453
DUP S. Lowry 216
Labour '87 T. Galloway 103
Green (NI) M. O'Sullivan 95
Turnout 12,326
Independent Unionist gain from Democratic Unionist
Party Candidate 1st Pref
SDLP Brian Feeney 2,426
UUP Fred Proctor 1,850
Sinn Féin Gerard McGuigan 1,682
Workers' Party Seamus Lynch 1,639
Sinn Féin Paddy McManus 1,548
Sinn Féin W. J. McGarry 1,115
Ulster Loyalist Democratic Paddy Bird 837
DUP S. Mulholland 805
UUP William Gault 780
Alliance G. E. Jones 443
Ulster Loyalist Democratic W. Clark 71
Turnout 13,744
Ulster Unionist gain from Democratic Unionist
Party Candidate 1st Pref
UUP J. J. Dixon Gilmore 1,496
SDLP Alasdair McDonnell 1,415
Alliance Steve McBride 1,107
DUP Rhonda Paisley 1,036
UUP Jim Clarke 854
Alliance M. S. Thomas 755
UUP H. Fletcher 753
Sinn Féin J. P. Clinton 753
SDLP G. McGettrick 629
Workers' Party K. Smyth 479
UUP M. A. Dickson 198
DUP Ben Horan 132
Labour '87 P. A. Hainsworth 109
Communist Party Barry Bruton 91
Turnout 10,179
No change
Upper Falls[7]
Party Candidate 1st Pref
SDLP Alex Attwood 3,292
Sinn Féin Alex Maskey 2,378
Sinn Féin Theresa Holland 2,329
Sinn Féin Máirtín Ó Muilleoir 1,435
SDLP Cormac Boomer 1,189
SDLP Peter Prendiville 713
Independent Cormac Boomer 378
Workers' Party J. Craig 380
Alliance Dan McGuinness 326
DUP R. Morrow 283
Communist Party K. O'Donnell 84
Turnout 12,835
Sinn Féin gain from Alliance
Lower Falls[7]
Party Candidate 1st Pref
SDLP Joe Hendron 2,748
Sinn Féin Fra McCann 2,307
Sinn Féin E. Fitzsimons 1,765
Sinn Féin R. G. May 1,626
Sinn Féin Seán McKnight 1,428
Workers' Party Mary McMahon 1,093
SDLP Mary Muldoon 588
Alliance Derrick Crothers 135
Turnout 12,260
Social Democratic and Labour gain from Alliance
Castlereagh Central[8]
Party Candidate 1st Pref
DUP Peter Robinson 3,461
UUP Grant Dillon 914
Alliance R.P. Mitchell 909
UUP E. Gray 453
Alliance A.M. Smith 446
DUP A.S. Carson 277
DUP J. Boyd 184
DUP C. Moore 150
DUP P. McNaughten 26
Turnout 6,820
No change
Castlereagh East[8]
Party Candidate 1st Pref
DUP Iris Robinson 1,168
DUP M.E. Anderson 938
Independent Unionist William Abraham 756
Alliance W. Boyd 749
UPUP Thomas Jeffers 509
UUP J. Bell 501
UUP A. Murray 312
Alliance M.J. Wilkes 257
DUP J.W. Boyle 196
DUP S.M. Robinson 122
Independent M.A.B. Brooks 40
Turnout 5,548
Ulster Popular Unionist gain from Ulster Unionist
Independent Unionist gain from Ulster Unionist
Castlereagh South[8]
Party Candidate 1st Pref
UUP John Taylor 2,039
DUP E.S. Harper 1,954
Alliance D.G. Andrews 1,364
UUP J. Clarke 667
Alliance Geraldine Rice 605
DUP B.M. Chambers 432
UUP F.R. Kane 402
UUP M. Luney 164
DUP T.R. Scott 107
DUP G.E. McCorkell 62
Turnout 7,796
Alliance gain from Democratic Unionist
Party Candidate 1st Pref
DUP Gardiner Kane 385
SDLP Michael O'Cleary 379
Independent S. Blaney 221
Independent A.D. McAuley 218
UUP R.A. McPherson 218
Independent J. McShane 202
Independent C.P. McCaughan 160
SDLP N. McCurdy 93
Turnout 1,876
Independent gain from Sinn Féin
Giant's Causeway[9]
Party Candidate 1st Pref
Independent Unionist R.A. McIlroy 554
DUP J.A. Rodgers 370
Independent Unionist P. McConaghy 319
UUP R.E. Getty 304
DUP G. Rodgers 137
Independent Unionist R. McIlvar 46
Turnout 1,730
No change
The Glens[9]
Party Candidate 1st Pref
SDLP Malachy McSparran 468
SDLP P.J. McBride 344
Sinn Féin James McCarry 331
Independent R.D. McDonnell 297
SDLP J.G.C. Mitchell 284
DUP E. White 251
SDLP D. Anderson 188
Independent M.J. Brogan 168
Turnout 2,331
No change
Newry and Mourne
Antrim Line[10]
Party Candidate 1st Pref
Alliance J.J. Rooney 908
DUP Tommy Kirkham 800
UUP J. Smith 775
UUP W. Green 718
SDLP T. P. McTeague 684
UUP I. Hunter 414
DUP B. McDonnell 235
Workers' Party B. Harrison 142
Labour Party NI[11] T. Davidson 111
Turnout 4,787
SDLP gain from Democratic Unionist
Party Candidate 1st Pref
UUP S. H. Turkington 969
Independent Unionist Arthur Templeton 863
UUP T. J. Downes 721
Independent Unionist S. R. Cameron 565
DUP S. Cameron 431
DUP S. Gardiner 359
Alliance T. Strain 323
Independent L. Hardy 281
Turnout 4,512
Ulster Unionist gain from Independent
Doagh Road[10]
Party Candidate 1st Pref
UUP Fraser Agnew 761
Labour Party NI[11] Bob Kidd 712
DUP Billy Snoddy 604
UUP A. Beattie 526
Alliance J. K. Blair 334
Independent Democratic Unionist D. Hollis 246
UUP W. Wright 109
Sinn Féin L. Collins 96
Workers' Party J.J. Magee 78
National Front David Kerr 41
Turnout 3,507
Alliance gain from Democratic Unionist
Manse Road[10]
Party Candidate 1st Pref
UUP George Herron 1,762
UUP J. Robinson 914
Alliance Gordon Mawhinney 725
DUP S. D. Neill 713
UUP J. A. Kell 303
Workers' Party B. Heaney 175
Independent Democratic Unionist T. M. Buchanan 99
Turnout 4,691
Alliance gain from Democratic Unionist
Shore Road[10]
Party Candidate 1st Pref
UUP B. J. Gilliland 1,008
UUP Ken Robinson 973
DUP B. Boyd 950
Alliance W. J. McKimmon 769
Independent Democratic Unionist W. M. Ball 240
Labour Party NI[11] D. Lowrie 164
DUP J. Boyd 150
Turnout 4,254
No change
North Down


  1. Chronology of the Anglo Irish agreement
  2. Elliott, Sydney; Smith, F.J. (1992), Northern Ireland: The District Council Elections of 1989, Queen's University of Belfast
  3. Sinn Féin background
  4. Local Government Elections 1989, Northern Ireland Elections
  5. The councillor had been elected in 1985 for the Newtownabbey Labour Party, which was a member of the Labour '87 coalition.
  6. "Responsibility sharing in local government". Archived from the original on 20 August 2008. Retrieved 10 November 2008.
  7. Belfast City Council Elections 1985–1989, Northern Ireland Elections
  8. Castlereagh Council Elections 1985–1989, Northern Ireland Elections
  9. Moyle Council Elections 1985–1989, Northern Ireland Elections
  10. newtownabbey Council Elections 1985–1989, Northern Ireland Elections
  11. Stood under the "Labour '87" banner