February 1974 United Kingdom general election in Northern Ireland

The February 1974 United Kingdom general election in Northern Ireland was held on 28 February with 12 MPs elected in single-seat constituencies using first-past-the-post as part of the wider general election in the United Kingdom.

February 1974 United Kingdom general election in Northern Ireland

 1970 28 February 1974 Oct. 1974 

12 seats in Northern Ireland of the 635 seats in the House of Commons
  First party Second party
Leader Harry West William Craig
Party UUP Vanguard
Leader since Jan. 1974 1973
Leader's seat Fermanagh and South Tyrone Belfast East
Seats won 7 3
Seat change 1 New
Popular vote 232,103 75,944
Percentage 32.3% 10.6%

  Third party Fourth party
Leader Gerry Fitt Ian Paisley
Leader since 1970 1971
Leader's seat Belfast West Antrim North
Seats won 1 1
Seat change New New
Popular vote 160,437 58,656
Percentage 22.4% 8.2%


The election took place soon after the Sunningdale Agreement, signed 9 December 1973. On 1 January 1974, an Executive was formed under the terms of the Agreement, based on the result of the 1973 Northern Ireland Assembly election, with Ulster Unionist Party leader Brian Faulkner as Chief Executive. It had six members from the UUP, four from the nationalist SDLP and one from the Alliance Party. These parties had both been founded in 1970.

Later in January 1974, the Ulster Unionist Council voted against participation in the Executive and Faulkner lost the leadership of the UUP to Harry West. West formed the United Ulster Unionist Council with the Vanguard Unionist Progressive Party (VUPP), founded in 1972 by William Craig, and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), founded in 1971 by Ian Paisley. They agreed that only one anti-Sunningdale Unionist would stand in each constituency. This strategy proved successful, with the UUUC winning 11 of the 12 seats. Seven supporters of Faulkner stood as Pro-Assembly Unionists, including outgoing MPs Stanley McMaster and Rafton Pounder.

On the nationalist side, former Republican Labour Party leader Gerry Fitt had formed the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). Fitt held his seat in Belfast West, but the split in the nationalist vote in Fermanagh and South Tyrone allowed Harry West to gain a seat from Unity. Bernadette McAliskey, who had held a seat for Unity since 1969 for Mid Ulster, contested as an independent but lost, again where a split in the nationalist vote allowed a new Unionist MP to gain.

In the election as a whole, the Conservative Party failed to return to government and the Labour Party formed a minority government led by Harold Wilson as Prime Minister.

Party MPs Votes
No. Change No. % Change
UUP 7 1 232,103 32.3% 21.9
Vanguard 3 3 75,944 10.6% New
DUP 1 1 58,656 8.2% New
SDLP 1 1 160,437 22.4% New
Pro-Assembly Unionist 0 94,301 13.1% Splinter
Alliance 0 22,660 3.2% New
Unity 0 2 17,593 2.4% 15.7
NI Labour 0 15,483 2.2% 10.4
Republican Clubs 0 15,152 2.1% 2.1
Independent 0 25,297 3.6% 3.2
Total 12 723,288 100

MPs elected

Constituency Party MP
Antrim North DUP Ian Paisley
Antrim South UUP James Molyneaux
Armagh UUP Harold McCusker
Belfast East Vanguard William Craig
Belfast North UUP John Carson
Belfast South Vanguard Robert Bradford
Belfast West SDLP Gerry Fitt
Down North UUP Jim Kilfedder
Down South UUP Lawrence Orr
Fermanagh and South Tyrone UUP Harry West
Londonderry UUP William Ross
Mid Ulster Vanguard John Dunlop


  1. Walker, Brian Mercer (1992). Parliamentary Election Results in Ireland, 1918–1992 (New History of Ireland). Dublin: Royal Irish Academy. pp. 29–30. ISBN 0901714968.
  2. "Elections to the United Kingdom Parliament held in Northern Ireland: General Election 1974 February". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  3. "Westminster election, 28 February 1974". ARK: Northern Ireland Elections. Retrieved 9 February 2019.