Traditional Unionist Voice

Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) is a unionist political party in Northern Ireland.[4] The party was founded on 7 December 2007, from a split in the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).[5] 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.[6][7] In the 2009 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.[8]

Traditional Unionist Voice
LeaderJim Allister
ChairmanIvor McConnell
PresidentWilliam Ross
Founded7 December 2007
Split fromDemocratic Unionist Party
Headquarters139 Holywood Road, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Political positionRight-wing
ColoursRed, white, and blue
House of Commons
(NI Seats)
0 / 18
NI Assembly
1 / 90
Local government in Northern Ireland[3]
6 / 462

The founding principles of the TUV were:[9]

Election history

Local by-elections

The party's first electoral contest was the Dromore local government by-election for Banbridge District Council[10] which took place on 13 February 2008[11] with its candidate being Dromore solicitor, Keith Harbinson. He took 19.5% of the first preference votes cast.

TUV was the last party to be eliminated, and more of its votes transferred to the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) than to the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), enabling the former to retain its seat.[12]

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.

2009 European Parliament election

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.[13] 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/GainFirst Preference Votes Seat
Number % of vote
Sinn Féin Bairbre de Brún10126,18425.81st
DUP Diane Dodds1088,34618.13rd
UCU-NF Jim Nicholson1082,89217.02nd
SDLP Alban Maginness0078,48916.1
TUV Jim Allister0066,19713.5
Alliance Ian Parsley0026,6995.5
Green (NI) Steven Agnew0015,7643.2

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'.[15]

Belfast EastDavid Vance1,8565.44
East AntrimSammy Morrison1,8266.06
East LondonderryWilliam Ross2,5727.45
Lagan ValleyKeith Harbinson3,1548.64
Mid UlsterWalter Millar2,9957.35
North AntrimJim Allister7,11416.82
North DownKaye Kilpatrick1,6344.94
South AntrimMel Lucas1,8295.46
South DownIvor McConnell1,5063.55
StrangfordTerry Williams1,8145.65

2011 council elections

Traditional Unionist Voice fielded 41 candidates in the 2011 Northern Ireland local elections. It received 2% of the overall vote. Two TUV candidates were elected in Ballymena, and one each in Moyle, Ballymoney, Larne and Limavady.[16]

2011 Northern Ireland Assembly election

The party fielded 12 candidates for the 2011 Northern Ireland 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.[17]

2014 European Parliament election

In the 2014 European Parliament election, Allister once again contested the Northern Ireland constituency. On this occasion he polled 75,806 first preference votes, 12.1% of the total.[18] 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.[19]

2014 council elections

In the 2014 Northern Ireland local elections (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.[20] They achieved their largest number of councillors in Mid 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 United Kingdom general election

The party stood in seven constituencies in the 2015 general election, taking second in North Antrim but failing to place in the top four elsewhere.

East AntrimRuth Wilson1,9035.76
Lagan ValleySamuel Morrison1,8874.76
Mid UlsterGareth Ferguson1,8924.65
North AntrimTimothy Gaston6,56115.72
North DownWilliam Cudworth6861.97
South AntrimRick Cairns1,9085.26
StrangfordStephen Cooper1,7015.17

2016 Northern Ireland Assembly election

The party stood 15 candidates in 14 constituencies in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly election, winning 23,776 first-preference votes (3.4% of the overall vote share). Jim Allister retained his seat in North Antrim, but the party was unable to gain any additional MLAs.

ConstituencyCandidateVotes%Position (after transfers)
Belfast EastAndrew Girvin8873.712
Belfast NorthJohn Miller6441.813
Belfast SouthJohn Andrew Hiddleston4951.312
East AntrimRuth Wilson1,6435.110
East LondonderryJordon Armstrong1,1913.511
Fermanagh and South TyroneDonald Crawford1,1642.510
Lagan ValleyLyle Rea1,2913.310
Mid UlsterHanna Loughrin1,8774.68
North AntrimJim Allister5,39913.22
North AntrimTimothy Gaston1,9554.89
North DownJohn Brennan6101.912
South AntrimRick Cairns1,3183.810
South DownHenry Reilly2,7186.610
StrangfordStephen Cooper1,4074.310
Upper BannRoy Ferguson1,1772.610

2017 United Kingdom general election

In 2017, the party stood a single candidate in the 2017 general election.

North AntrimTimothy Gaston3,2826.84

2019 United Kingdom general election

The TUV chose not to stand any candidates in the 2019 general election.[21]


On 4 November 2009, the party caused controversy when it referred to the Irish language as a "leprechaun language" on its website.[22] The statement was issued under the name of TUV vice-chairman Keith Harbinson and condemned the Department of Education for "wasting" money on Irish.[22] The party later removed the phrase, but the original page had already been spread on numerous other websites.[22]

In December 2009, TUV member Trevor Collins promoted a petition to release Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) member Torrens 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.[23]

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,[24] 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."[25] The TUV also stated that the sex offences related "to a period long before he was a member of this party".[26] 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. Tweed's conviction was later quashed on 25 October 2016.[27]


# Leader Born-Died Term start Term end
1 Jim Allister1953–7 December 2007Incumbent


  1. Nordsieck, Wolfram (2017). "Northern Ireland/UK". Parties and Elections in Europe. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  2. Three Compelling Reasons to Vote Leave. Traditional Unionist Voice (official website). Published 20 June 2016. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  3. "Local Council Political Compositions". Open Council Date UK. 7 January 2018. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  4. TUV. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  5. Election profile: Traditional Unionist Voice. BBC NEWS. Published 27 March 2015. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  6. "New unionist group to be launched". BBC News. 7 December 2007. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  7. "Northern Ireland News - Allister Announces 'Alternative Ulster' Voice". 7 December 2007. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  8. We'll bring the DUP to account[permanent dead link], The News Letter, 4 June 2008
  9. "Traditional Unionist Voice Leaflet" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 May 2009. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  10. "TUV to contest Dromore by-election". 12 January 2008. Archived from the original on 29 May 2009. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  11. "by-election date". Archived from the original on 21 February 2011. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  12. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 25 February 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. "Who is Jim Allister?".
  14. "Electoral Office for Northern Ireland - Turnout" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  15. "Thank you to TUV voters and workers | Traditional Unionist Voice". Archived from the original on 25 October 2011. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  16. "Northern Ireland Council Elections". BBC News.
  17. "UTV - Northern Ireland Assembly election 2011: North Antrim constituency profile & candidates". Archived from the original on 19 April 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  18. "BBC News - Vote 2014: Northern Ireland European election result". BBC News. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  20. "Vote 2014 Election Results for Councils in Northern Ireland - BBC News". Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  21. General Election 2019: NI candidates confirmed - BBC News BBC News
  22. "TUV sorry for 'leprechaun' slur". BBC News. 6 November 2009. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  23. "TUV won't take action over Knight petition". BBC News. 4 December 2009. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  24. "Former Irish rugby international David Tweed guilty of child sex abuse". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  25. News Letter, Belfast, 15 November 2012
  26. "Tweed remarks hurt family, says mum of murder victim", 'The Irish News', 30 November 2012
  27. Maeve Connolly, "TUV replaces sex abuser ex-councillor", [The Irish News], 16 February 2013