Dáil Elections 2024 – Predicting the Northern Six Counties…

David Nesbitt is a husband, father and Presbyterian in the fine tradition of McCracken and Neilson. He obtained a PhD in Computer Science from Queens and likes to nerd out on election coverage.

Following last year’s shocking decision to call a snap Border Poll on New Years Day 2024 and the even more shocking (but not unprecendented) result of 55% in favour of Northern Ireland re-unifying with the Irish Republic, the waning months of 2024 have been interesting to say the least. As we come up to election time for the Northern 6 counties of Ireland, now would be a good time to take an educated guess (and it is just a guess) at who the first 72 TDs might be.

Next week’s article will delve into some possible government coalition scenarios. Not to put the cart before the horse, but the big determining factor will be whether or not the DUP decide to take their seats or hold to their promise to abstain from sitting. Will FF/FG be able to persuade them that being involved in the process is worth swallowing their apprehensions?

You may be now familiar with this map of the 17 new Dáil constituencies. Mercifully for us, the boundary commission chose to compose the constituencies from Local Government Areas (LGAs) used to elect local councillors, just last year. That means that we can use last year’s results to estimate relative support for parties in the new constituencies – with caveats, of course.

State of the Parties

As always in multi-member elections, there will be a number of seats that will come down to the wire – all depending on what parties can get their vote out.

Will Nationalists show up, eager to shape this new Ireland or, having accomplished their task, have a reduced turnout? Will Unionism, absent of the Union, sink into a depression or find their fighting spirit and spice things up on the Dáil floor? The answer to these questions will determine the balance of power in the Dáil.

Over the last few months Alliance haven’t looked so allied (as it were) with defections to the SDLP and UUP due to the sharp focus on the constitutional question. Officially, of course, the party line is that the referendum result has answered the constitutional question. Will this hurt their vote or will they be able to hold the middle ground and shape Ireland ‘for all’?

We’ve watched the Ulster Unionists’ transformation into the Ulster Party with some interest. Their emphasis on advocating for Unionists within a united Ireland has been met with scepticism from some corners, Lundy-branding from others and applaud from still others. Will this latest re-branding bring them back into contention and take back votes from Alliance?

Much has been written about the DUP’s stance leading up to these elections – with their qualified statements about not taking their seats unless accommodations are made for Unionists. Will they hold their nerve? Will Unionists believe that it’s better to change the system from without or from within?

Lastly, with the TUV’s refusal to participate in these elections, what will their voters do – will they stay home or will they cast their votes to the DUP?

With all that said, let’s look at the constituencies, county-by-county and try to put some estimates against how many TDs each party could end up with. Each entry has a graph depicting quotas for the new constituencies for each party. These quotas were obtained by counting the total first perference votes for each party across the LGAs that compose the constituency and converting that into a quota, given the number of TDs for each area. For reference we note the LGAs that the constituencies are composed of. For the sake of brevity we’ll only note the notable outcomes.

While they’re not a county per-se, we’ll start with the Belfast Constituencies.


Belfast North LGAs: Macedon, Glengormley Urban, Oldpark, Castle (4 TDs)

Belfast East LGAs: Titanic, Lisnasharragh, Ormiston, Castlereagh East (5 TDs)

Belfast South LGAs: Botanic, Castlereagh South, Balmoral (4 TDs)

Belfast West LGAs: Court, Black Mountain, Collin (4 TDs)

In the North of the city it looks like, after the SDLP candidate is eliminated, SF’s second TD should be elected. However, it’s unlikely that the DUP will be able to get a second once the UP and TUV votes are redistributed. It’s possible that Alliance could either secure enough votes to meet quota or be the last party standing.

The last party in the East of the city is a toss up, but I think the Ulster Party will stick around long enough to get elected under quota.

In Belfast South we can expect a diverse range of TDs, which is appropriate for the area. It looks like the UP and Greens don’t have enough to take them over the line and the other parties are too evenly matched to take more than one seat each.

In Belfast West the Unionist vote is likely to be too small to secure even a single TD, so if Alliance can avoid early elimination, they are likely candidates for the last seat.

Predicted Results:

Belfast North: 2 SF, 1 DUP, 1 Alliance

Belfast East: Results: 2 DUP, 2 Alliance, 1 UP

Belfast South: 1 SF, 1 DUP, 1 Alliance, 1 SDLP

Belfast West: 3 SF, 1 Alliance


Fermanagh LGAs: Erne North, Erne West, Erne East, Enniskillen (3 TDs)

Sorting out our only single consituency county might take a while. There should be just enough to get 2 SF TDs in and the Unionist TD looks more likely to be UP than DUP here.

Predicted Results: SF 2, UP 1


Tyrone West LGAs: Derg, Sperrin, Mid Tyrone, Omagh, West Tyrone (4 TDs)

Tyrone East LGAs: Cookstown, Torrent, Dunngannon, Clougher Valley (4 TDs)

Tyrone West looks relatively straightforward. With effective vote management SF should get all three of their TDs home by outlasting the SDLP. The DUP is the frontrunner for picking up the Unionist quota.

The real fight in Tyrone East will come down to that last seat as Alliance is likely to be eliminated early leaving the fate of the last seat up to independent voters. Iit difficult to make a definitve prediction, but at a pinch I’d say UP stays in it long enough to get in under quota.

Predicted Results:

Tyrone West: SF 3, DUP 1

Tyrone East: SF 2, DUP 1, UP 1


Antrim North LGAs: Causeway, The Glens, Ballymoney, Coast Road (3 TDs)

Antrim Mid LGAs: Antrim, Ballyclare, Dunsilly, Ballymena, Bannside, Braid, Larne Lough (5 TDs)

Antrim South LGAs: Airport, Three Mile Water, Lurgan, Killultagh, Carrick Castle, Knockagh (5 TDs)

All eyes will be on the third seat in Antrim North. The local government election resulted in the equivalent of 1.98 Unionist quotas so it looks like Alliance might just cross the line ahead of the Ulster Party.

Antrim Mid and Antrim South could very possibly return the same set of results as each other – but the sequence of how those TDs get elected will look very different.

Predicted Results:

Antrim North : SF 1, DUP 1, Alliance 1

Antrim Mid: SF 1, DUP 2, Alliance 1, UP 1

Antrim South: SF 1, DUP 2, Alliance 1, UP 1


Armagh North LGAs: Armagh, Craigavon, Portadown (4 TDs)

Armagh South LGAs: Cusher, Slieve Gullion, Newry (3 TDs)

The SDLP would be happy to pick up transfers in Armagh North and get 1 TD home. It looks like there should be just enough Unionist vote to secure 2 TDs, divided between the DUP and UP.

With Newry in its totallity being included in Armagh South, Sinn Fein are looking favorable to secure a couple of TDs there. If Alliance get eliminated early it looks like either the DUP or UP would take the last seat, but my bet is on the former.

Predicted Results:

Armagh North: SF 1, DUP 1, SDLP 1, UP 1

Armagh South: SF 2, DUP 1


Mournes LGAs: Crotlieve, Downpatrick, Slieve Croob, The Mournes, Banbridge (5TDs)

Lagan Valley LGAs: Lagan River, Downshire East, Downshire West, Lisburn North, Lisburn South, Rowallane, Comber (5 TDs)

North Down LGAs: North Down: Ards Peninsula, Bangor Central, Bangor East and Donaghadee, Bangor West, Holywood and Clandeboye, Newtownards (5 TDs)

Nationalism looks strong enough in the Mournes to return 3 TDs although the SDLP’s one will likely need to wait a while. On the Unionist side, the situation looks fairly clear, with the DUP securing their spot. Order of elimination always makes these things tricky but I think Alliance stays in it long enough to take the last seat.

The idea of seeing Jeffrey Donaldson on the Dáil floor, advocating for the people of the Lagan Valley could well take the prize for most surprising outcome of the last months but he should be joined by a colleague, along with a member from the Ulster Party. I think the SDLP just pip SF for the last seat.

In North Down I could easily see the UP’s realpolitik getting them cross the line on the first count. Elimination of other candidates should result in a second TD for Alliance. The real story will be whether the last seat will go DUP or UP – my money is on the DUP sticking in there.

Predicted Results:

Mournes: SF 2, DUP 1, Alliance 1, SDLP 1

Lagan Valley: 2 DUP, 1 Alliance, 1 SDLP, 1 UP

North Down: 2 DUP, 2 Alliance, 1 UP


Londonderry West LGAs: Faughan, Waterside, Ballyarnett, Foyleside, The Moor (4 Tds)

Londonderry East LGAs: Bann, Benbradagh, Coleraine, Limavady, Carntogher, Magherafelt, Moyola (5 TDs)

It looks like SF’s electoral turnaround in Londonderry will continue, while the SDLP look certain to get one seat and I don’t think Unionism has enough support to deprive them of a second.

Londonderry East will likely hinge on order of elimination. It appears that Alliance won’t have enough to stick in the race, resulting in an SDLP and a UP candidate claiming the last two seats.

Predicted Results:

Londonderry West: SF 2, SDLP 2

Londonderry East: SF 2, DUP 1, SDLP 1, UP 1


Party TDs
Sinn Fein 25
DUP 19
Alliance 12
Ulster Party 9

This would make Sinn Fein, rather predictably, the largest party in the North 6 counties. The results for the other parties look largely in line with their electoral trends province-wide so I don’t think any will feel too hard done by.

You may notice that these numbers would result in a new largest party in the Dáil. Join us next time when we enter into idle (but interesting) speculation into possible coalitions.

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