Fermanagh and South Tyrone (UK Parliament constituency)

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

Fermanagh and South Tyrone
County constituency
for the House of Commons
Boundary of Fermanagh and South Tyrone in Northern Ireland
Districts of Northern IrelandFermanagh, Dungannon and South Tyrone
Electorate69,413 (March 2011)
Current constituency
Member of ParliamentMichelle Gildernew (Sinn Féin)
Number of membersOne
Created fromFermanagh and Tyrone


1950–1983: The county of Fermanagh, the Urban District of Dungannon, the Rural Districts of Clogher and Dungannon, and that part of the Rural District of Omagh consisting of the District Electoral Divisions of Aghafad, Dervaghroy, Dromore, Drumharvey, Ecclesville, Fallaghearn, Fintona, Greenan, Killskerry, Lifford, Moorfield, Rahoney, Seskinore, Tattymoyle and Trillick.

1983–1997: The District of Fermanagh, and the District of Dungannon.

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

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


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

Throughout the existence of Fermanagh and South Tyrone, there has been a rough balance between unionist and nationalist voters, though in recent years the nationalists have had a slight majority. Many elections have seen a candidate from one community triumph due to multiple candidates from the other community splitting the vote. Perhaps because of this balance between the communities, Fermanagh and South Tyrone has repeatedly had the highest turn-out (and the smallest winning margin) of any constituency in Northern Ireland.

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

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

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

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

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

Republicans suffered a reversal in the 1983 general election, when the SDLP contested the seat. Maginnis won and held the seat for the UUP for the next eighteen years until he retired. By this point boundary changes had resulted in a broad 50:50 balance between unionists and nationalists and it was expected that a single unionist candidate would hold the seat in the 2001 general election. James Cooper was nominated by the UUP. On this occasion, however, both the nationalist and unionist votes were to be split. Initially, Maurice Morrow of the DUP was nominated to stand, with the DUP fiercely opposing the UUP's support for the Good Friday Agreement. Morrow then withdrew in favour of Jim Dixon, a survivor of the Enniskillen bombing who stood as an Independent Unionist opposed to the Agreement. Tommy Gallagher of the SDLP ran, but his intervention did not do enough damage to Sinn Féin. Sinn Féin's Michelle Gildernew won by 53 votes over Cooper. Subsequently, the result was challenged amid allegations that a polling station had been kept open by force for longer than the deadline, allowing more people to vote, but the courts—while conceding that this happened—did not uphold the challenge, because it held that the votes cast after the legal closing time would not have affected the outcome.[1]

Ahead of the 2005 general election, there was speculation that a single unionist candidate could retake the seat. The UUP and DUP, however, ran opposing candidates and in the event Gildernew held her seat. She kept the seat at the 2010 general election by four votes over the Unionist candidate, Rodney Connor.[2] Following the election, Connor lodged an election petition challenging the result, based on a dispute about differences in the number of ballot papers recorded at polling stations and those subsequently recorded at the count centre.[3] The petition was rejected after it was found that only three extra votes remained unaccounted for. The judge ruled that "even if those votes were introduced in breach of the rules and if they had all been counted in favour of the first respondent their exclusion would still have given the first respondent (Ms Gildernew) a majority of one vote and the result would not have been affected."[4]

In the election of May 2015 Sinn Féin's Michelle Gildernew lost the seat to the UUP's candidate Tom Elliott. Although Elliott was running for the UUP, he was also being actively supported by the DUP, the Traditional Unionist Voice and the UK Independence Party. The Conservative Party also refused to run a candidate in Fermanagh and South Tyrone, despite running in 16 out of the other 17 constituencies.[5] Just as in the February 1974 and 1983 elections, faced with a single Unionist candidate, the SDLP refused to discuss a nationalist pact with Sinn Féin.

Gildernew re-captured her seat in the snap June 2017 election. In the 2019 election she was re-elected with a majority of just 57 votes (the narrowest result in the UK), despite the DUP withdrawing and the SDLP standing a candidate. This made the 2019 election the second time in under ten years that Fermanagh and South Tyrone has been the seat with the smallest winning majority in the UK.

Members of Parliament

ElectionMember[6] Party
1950 Cahir Healy Nationalist
1955 Philip Clarke Sinn Féin
1955 Lord Robert Grosvenor Ulster Unionist
1964 Marquess of Hamilton Ulster Unionist
1970 Frank McManus Unity
February 1974 Harry West Ulster Unionist
October 1974 Frank Maguire Independent Republican
April 1981 by-election Bobby Sands Anti H-Block
August 1981 by-election Owen Carron Anti H-Block
1982 Sinn Féin
1983 Ken Maginnis Ulster Unionist
2001 Michelle Gildernew Sinn Féin
2015 Tom Elliott Ulster Unionist
2017 Michelle Gildernew Sinn Féin


Fermanagh & South Tyrone election results

Elections in the 2010s

General election 2019: Fermanagh and South Tyrone[7]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Sinn Féin Michelle Gildernew 21,986 43.3 -3.9
UUP Tom Elliott 21,929 43.2 -2.3
SDLP Adam Gannon 3,446 6.8 +2.0
Alliance Matthew Beaumont 2,650 5.2 +3.5
Independent Caroline Wheeler 751 1.5 New
Majority 57 0.1 -1.6
Turnout 50,762 69.7 -6.1
Registered electors 72,829
Sinn Féin hold Swing -0.8

Caroline Wheeler is a member of the United Kingdom Labour Party who ran as an independent in the seat as the Labour Party do not run in Northern Ireland.[8][9]

This was the smallest majority at the 2019 general election.[10]

General election 2017: Fermanagh and South Tyrone[11][12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Sinn Féin Michelle Gildernew 25,230 47.2 +1.8
UUP Tom Elliott 24,355 45.5 -0.9
SDLP Mary Garrity 2,587 4.8 -0.6
Alliance Noreen Campbell 886 1.7 +0.4
Green (NI) Tanya Jones 423 0.8 -0.7
Majority 875 1.7 N/A
Turnout 53,481 75.8 +3.2
Registered electors 70,601
Sinn Féin gain from UUP Swing -1.3
General election 2015: Fermanagh and South Tyrone[13][14][15][16]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
UUP Tom Elliott 23,608 46.4 +0.9
Sinn Féin Michelle Gildernew 23,078 45.4 -0.1
SDLP John Coyle 2,732 5.4 -1.8
Green (NI) Tanya Jones 788 1.5 New
Alliance Hannah Su 658 1.3 +0.4
Majority 530 1.0 N/A
Turnout 50,864 72.6 +3.7
Registered electors 70,108
UUP gain from Sinn Féin Swing +23.3
General election 2010: Fermanagh and South Tyrone[17][15][16]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Sinn Féin Michelle Gildernew 21,304 45.5 +7.3
Independent Unionist Rodney Connor 21,300 45.5 -1.5
SDLP Fearghal McKinney 3,574 7.6 -7.2
Alliance Vasundhara Kamble 437 0.9 New
Independent John Stevenson 188 0.4 New
Majority 4 0.0 N/A
Turnout 46,803 68.9 -3.7
Registered electors 67,908
Sinn Féin hold Swing −19.1

Rodney Connor had the support of the Democratic Unionist Party and Ulster Conservatives and Unionists - New Force[18] Following the close result Connor lodged a petition against Gildernew alleging irregularities in the counting of the votes had affected the result. However the Court found that there were only three ballot papers which could not be accounted for, and even if they were all votes for Connor, Gildernew would have had a plurality of one. The election was therefore upheld.[19]

Elections in the 2000s

General election 2005: Fermanagh and South Tyrone[20]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Sinn Féin Michelle Gildernew 18,638 38.2 +4.1
DUP Arlene Foster 14,056 28.8 New
UUP Tom Elliott 8,869 18.2 −15.8
SDLP Tommy Gallagher 7,230 14.8 −3.9
Majority 4,582 9.4 +9.3
Turnout 48,793 72.6 −5.4
Registered electors 66,415
Sinn Féin hold Swing −12.4
General election 2001: Fermanagh and South Tyrone[21]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Sinn Féin Michelle Gildernew 17,739 34.1 +11.0
UUP James Leslie Cooper 17,686 34.0 −17.5
SDLP Tommy Gallagher 9,706 18.7 −4.2
Independent William James Dixon 6,843 13.2 New
Majority 53 0.1 N/A
Turnout 51,974 78.0 +3.2
Registered electors 61,390
Sinn Féin gain from UUP Swing +14.2

Elections in the 1990s

General election 1997: Fermanagh and South Tyrone[22]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
UUP Ken Maginnis 24,862 51.5 −1.0
Sinn Féin Gerry McHugh 11,174 23.1 +4.0
SDLP Tommy Gallagher 11,060 22.9 0.0
Alliance Stephen Farry 977 2.0 0.0
Natural Law Simeon Gillan 217 0.4 New
Majority 13,688 28.4 +2.8
Turnout 48,290 74.8 -3.7
Registered electors 59,086
UUP hold Swing -8.1

Boundary changes took effect from the 1997 general election. The projections of what the 1992 result would have been if fought on 1997 boundaries are shown below.[23]

Notional 1992 UK General Election Result : Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Party Candidate Votes % ±
UUP N/A 25,740 52.5 N/A
SDLP N/A 10,982 22.9 N/A
Sinn Féin N/A 9,143 19.1 N/A
Others N/A 1,841 3.8 N/A
Alliance N/A 950 2.0 N/A
Majority 14,089 29.4 N/A
General election 1992: Fermanagh and South Tyrone[24]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
UUP Ken Maginnis 26,923 48.8 −0.8
SDLP Tommy Gallagher 12,810 23.2 +4.1
Sinn Féin Francie Molloy 12,604 22.9 −3.5
Independent Progressive Socialist David Kettyles 1,094 2.0 New
Alliance Eric Bullick 950 1.7 0.0
New Agenda Gerry Cullen 747 1.4 New
Majority 14,113 25.6 +2.4
Turnout 55,128 78.5 -1.8
Registered electors 70,253
UUP hold Swing

Elections in the 1980s

General election 1987: Fermanagh and South Tyrone[25]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
UUP Ken Maginnis 27,446 49.6 +2.0
Sinn Féin Paul Corrigan 14,623 26.4 −8.4
SDLP Rosemary Flanagan 10,581 19.1 +2.6
Workers' Party David Kettyles 1,784 3.2 +2.1
Alliance John Haslett 950 1.7 New
Majority 12,823 23.2 +10.4
Turnout 55,834 80.3 -8.3
Registered electors 68,979
UUP hold Swing
By-election 1986: Fermanagh and South Tyrone[26]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
UUP Ken Maginnis 27,857 49.7 +2.1
Sinn Féin Owen Carron 15,278 27.2 −7.6
SDLP Austin Currie 12,081 21.5 +5.0
Workers' Party David Kettyles 864 1.5 −0.4
Majority 12,579 22.5 +9.7
Turnout 56,080 80.4 -8.2
Registered electors 69,767
UUP hold Swing
General election 1983: Fermanagh and South Tyrone[27]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
UUP Ken Maginnis 28,630 47.6 +19.6
Sinn Féin Owen Carron 20,954 34.8 New
SDLP Rosemary Flanagan 9,923 16.5 New
Workers' Party David Kettyles 649 1.1 New
Majority 7,676 12.8 N/A
Turnout 60,156 88.6 +1.5
Registered electors 67,842
UUP gain from Anti H-Block Swing

Minor boundary changes took effect from the 1983 general election.

By-election August 1981: Fermanagh and South Tyrone[28]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Anti H-Block Owen Carron 31,278 49.1 −2.1
UUP Ken Maginnis 29,048 45.6 −4.2
Alliance Seamus Close 1,930 3.0 New
Republican Clubs Tom Moore 1,132 1.8 New
General Amnesty Martin Green 249 0.4 New
The Peace Lover Simon Hall-Raleigh 90 0.1 New
Majority 2,230 3.5 +1.1
Turnout 63,727 88.6 +1.7
Registered electors 73,161
Anti H-Block hold Swing
By-election April 1981: Fermanagh and South Tyrone[28]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Anti H-Block Bobby Sands 30,493 51.2 New
UUP Harry West 29,046 48.8 +20.8
Majority 1,447 2.4 N/A
Turnout 59,538 86.9 −0.2
Registered electors 72,349
Anti H-Block gain from Independent Republican Swing

Elections in the 1970s

General election 1979: Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Independent Republican Frank Maguire 22,398 36.0 −15.8
UUP Raymond Ferguson 17,411 28.0 −19.9
Independent SDLP Austin Currie 10,785 17.3 New
UUUP Ernest Baird 10,607 17.0 New
Alliance Peter Newton Acheson 1,070 1.7 New
Majority 4,987 8.0 +4.1
Turnout 62,271 87.1 −1.6
Registered electors 71,481
Independent Republican hold Swing
General election October 1974: Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Independent Republican Frank Maguire 32,795 51.8 New
UUP Harry West 30,285 47.9 +4.3
Marxist–Leninist (Ireland) Alan John Evans 185 0.3 New
Majority 2,510 3.9 N/A
Turnout 63,265 88.7 +0.3
Registered electors 71,343
Independent Republican gain from UUP Swing N/A
General election February 1974: Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Party Candidate Votes % ±
UUP Harry West 26,858 43.6 −5.3
Unity Frank McManus 16,229 26.3 −24.8
SDLP Denis Haughey 15,410 25.0 New
Pro-Assembly Unionist Hubert Irvin Brown 3,157 5.1 New
Majority 10,629 17.3 N/A
Turnout 61,654 88.4 −3.7
Registered electors 69,775
UUP gain from Unity Swing
General election 1970: Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Unity Frank McManus 32,837 51.1 +24.2
UUP James Hamilton 31,390 48.9 −5.1
Majority 1,447 2.2 N/A
Turnout 64,227 92.1 +6.1
Registered electors 70,381
Unity gain from UUP Swing

Elections in the 1960s

General election 1966: Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Party Candidate Votes % ±
UUP James Hamilton 29,352 54.0 −1.1
Unity James J. Donnelly 14,645 26.9 New
Independent Republican Ruairí Ó Brádaigh 10,370 19.1 -10.5
Majority 14,707 27.1 +1.6
Turnout 54,367 86.0 +0.1
Registered electors 63,188
UUP hold Swing
General election 1964: Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Party Candidate Votes % ±
UUP James Hamilton 30,010 55.1 −26.3
Independent Republican Aloysius Mulloy 16,138 29.6 New
Ulster Liberal Giles FitzHerbert 6,006 11.0 New
NI Labour Baptist W. Gamble 2,339 4.3 New
Majority 13,872 25.5 −37.2
Turnout 54,493 85.9 +24.3
Registered electors 63,642
UUP hold Swing N/A

Elections in the 1950s

General election 1959: Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Party Candidate Votes % ±
UUP Robert Grosvenor 32,080 81.4 +31.6
Sinn Féin James Martin 7,348 18.6 −31.6
Majority 24,732 62.7 +62.3
Turnout 39,428 61.6 −31.0
Registered electors 64,022
UUP gain from Sinn Féin Swing
General election 1955: Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Sinn Féin Philip Clarke 30,529 50.2 New
UUP Robert Grosvenor 30,268 49.8 +0.9
Majority 261 0.4 N/A
Turnout 60,797 92.6 −0.8
Registered electors 65,770
Sinn Féin gain from Irish Nationalist Swing

After the election, Philip Clarke was found ineligible by an election court, and Lord Robert Grosvenor was declared elected in his place.

General election 1951: Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Nationalist Cahir Healy 32,717 52.1 +0.2
UUP Frederick Patterson 30,268 47.9 −0.2
Majority 2,635 4.2 +0.4
Turnout 62,985 93.4 +1.3
Registered electors 67,219
Nationalist hold Swing
General election 1950: Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Nationalist Cahir Healy 32,188 51.9 N/A
UUP Henry Richardson 29,877 48.1 N/A
Majority 2,311 3.8 N/A
Turnout 62,065 92.1 N/A
Registered electors 67,424
Nationalist win (new seat)

See also


  1. Court told of UUP claim of polling irregularities The Free Library, 18 September 2001
  2. "SF's Gildernew retains her seat". BBC News. 7 May 2010.
  3. "Unionists launch election challenge, Belfast Newsletter, 28 May 2010, accessed 29 May 2010". Newsletter.co.uk. Retrieved 9 August 2010.
  4. "Fermanagh/South Tyrone election result challenge fails". BBC News. 22 October 2010.
  5. "Northern Ireland Conservatives launch manifesto". BBC News.
  6. Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "L" (part 4)
  7. "Fermanagh & South Tyrone Parliamentary constituency". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  8. "Fermanagh & South Tyrone: Vote Caroline Wheeler - a labour and trade union voice". 25 November 2019.
  9. "Labour not running candidates in NI elections is disappointing: Hoey" via www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk.
  10. http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-8749/CBP-8749.pdf
  11. "Election of a Member of Parliament for the FERMANAGH AND SOUTH TYRONE Constituency - Statement of Persons Nominated and Notice of Poll". Electoral Office of Northern Ireland. 11 May 2017. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  12. "Fermanagh & South Tyrone - Election 2017". BBC News. 9 June 2017. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  13. "Election Data 2015". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
  14. "The Electoral Office of Northern Ireland - EONI". www.eoni.org.uk.
  15. Statement of Persons Nominated Archived 21 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine Electoral Office for Northern Ireland
  16. "BBC NEWS – Election 2010 – Fermanagh & South Tyrone". BBC News.
  17. "Election Data 2010". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 26 July 2013. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
  18. "Unionist 'unity' candidate agreed". BBC News. 9 April 2010.
  19. "Unionist dismay as election case falters". News Letter. 23 October 2010. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  20. "Election Data 2005". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  21. "Election Data 2001". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  22. "Election Data 1997". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  23. General Election 1997 – Fermanagh and South Tyrone BBC News
  24. "Election Data 1992". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  25. "Election Data 1987". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  26. Results of Byelections in the 1983-87 Parliament in the United Kingdom Election Results website maintained by David Boothroyd
  27. "Election Data 1983". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  28. Boothroyd, David. "Results of Byelections in the 1979-83 Parliament". United Kingdom Election Results. Retrieved 19 September 2015.

Further reading