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North Belfast
DUP gain

Constituency Profile by Robert Waller
After west Belfast, the most war torn, divided, segregated and multiply blighted parts of the Northern Irish capital are to be found in north Belfast. Here are located such neighbourhoods as Ardoyne and New Lodge, Crumlin and Woodvale. Thirty-seven per cent of the population was Roman Catholic at the time of the 1991 Census, and over 40 per cent of votes were cast for nationalist parties. It was because these were almost equally divided between Sinn Fein and the more moderate SDLP that Cecil Walker won by an apparently comfortable majority of 13,000. However, this is not comfortable at all, for the 76-year-old Walker surely faces a very strong threat from DUP candidate Nigel Dodds, who topped the poll here in the elections for the current Northern Ireland Assembly, especially as he is one of the handful of Ulster Unionist MPs who have not condemned the way the Good Friday / Belfast agreement has worked out so far. Nor should the SDLP's Alban Maginness be written off in a seat where 40 pc voted for nationalist candidates last time, although then it was evenly divided with Sinn Fein, and may be again, as the less moderate parties appear to have advanced on both sides of the sectarian divide. Another victory for a candidate with a very low share of the vote seems likely in this splintered seat, but overall it would be a surprise if Walker were still MP after the next general election.

Personality Profile by Byron Criddle
Cecil Walker, tall and burly and sporting tinted spectacles, won this seat in 1983 from a Paisleyite Unionist and is now vulnerable to Paisley's DUP as one of only three UUP MPs to back David Trimble over power-sharing. A policeman's son, born in 1924, he attended Methodist College, Belfast and worked in the same timber firm for 42 years, mostly as its sales manager. He is the lowest profiled of the low profile Unionist MPs, having said almost nothing in the Commons latterly, but claiming it doesn't matter because his majority has increased at every election. His effective Paisleyite opponent is Nigel Dodds, a member of the Northern Ireland Executive. Dodds is already MLA for the seat, and did Walker an enormous favour by giving him a free run against the nationalists in 1997. A former Lord Mayor of Belfast and briefly (1999-2000) a minister in the Northern Ireland Executive, he cuts an impressive dash as a Cambridge-educated barrister in a party more seen as representing the down-market end of Unionism. Walker, 76 and deaf, makes a soft target for this effective performer.

2001 Results - General Election (7 June 2001)
Nigel Dodds
DUP gain
WP Marcella Delaney 253 0.62%
DUP Nigel Dodds 16,718 40.84%
SF Gerry Kelly 10,331 25.24%
SDLP Alban Maginness 8,592 20.99%
UUP Cecil Walker 4,904 11.98%
I Rainbow George Weiss 134 0.33%
Candidates representing 6 parties stood for election to this seat.

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