In the 2017 Assembly election, Sinn Féin secured four of the five seats in West Belfast. On May 5, all eyes will be on the key constituency to see if the party can do the same again.
The fifth seat is currently held by People Before Profit's Gerry Carroll. The party fielded two candidates in 2017 but this time Mr Carroll has no running mate, which should help to consolidate his vote.
West Belfast is the most deprived constituency in Northern Ireland, with 23 of the area's 50 Super Output Areas (SOAs) ranked in the 10% most deprived wards in the region.
Read more: Full coverage of the 2022 Northern Ireland Assembly election
The 2011 census shows that 21.5% of people in this area said they had British identity (the least of the 18 constituencies), 59.17% said they had Irish identity (the most), while 22.44% considered themselves Northern Irish (the least).
Some 20.98% of people in the West Belfast constituency claim some ability in the Irish language (the highest of 18 constituencies).
In the 2017 Assembly election, Alex Attwood of the SDLP was eliminated on the second count, 353 votes behind the DUP's Frank McCoubrey.
If it had been the other way around, Attwood would likely have profited from unionist transfers to stay in the running. The SDLP would love to take a seat here in a constituency where it formerly had Westminster and Assembly representation.
The SDLP candidate, Paul Doherty, is a local activist who has run the Foodstock food bank during the pandemic and was at the fore in organising aid for Ukraine.
The SDLP and DUP will be in the hunt for a seat. The SDLP will be more transfer-friendly in this constituency but may have ground to make up on the unionist candidate after first preferences are counted.
The unionist Shankill area is in this constituency and there could potentially be a unionist seat. The DUP has come closest to taking it in the past, but other unionist candidates in the field make it a challenge.
In 2017, Frank McCoubrey lost the last seat by a margin of 1,382 to Sinn Féin's Pat Sheehan, and 846 undistributed Sinn Féin surplus votes would certtainly have widened the gap.
Sinn Féin is standing three incumbent MLAs (two elected and one co-opted) and a former Lord Mayor of Belfast here on May 5, but the last of their four seats could be in the balance.
The final outcome will all come down to the order of exclusions and the way the transfers work.
Which candidates are standing in the West Belfast constituency?
- Danny Baker (Sinn Féin)
- Gerard Burns (Independent)
- Gerry Carroll (People Before Profit)
- Patrick Crossan (Workers Party)
- Paul Doherty (SDLP)
- Jordan Doran (TUV)
- Órlaithí Flynn (Sinn Féin)
- Linsey Gibson (UUP)
- Gerard Herdman (Aontú)
- Donnamarie Higgins (Alliance)
- Declan Hill (Independent)
- Stevie Maginn (Green Party)
- Tony Mallon (Independent)
- Frank McCoubrey (DUP)
- Dan Murphy (IRSP)
- Aisling Reilly (Sinn Féin)
- Pat Sheehan (Sinn Féin)
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