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election2001
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West Tyrone
SF gain

Constituency Profile by Robert Waller
In the unique political situation of Northern Ireland, the continuing tenure of the hard-line Unionist William Thompson in West Tyrone is in great peril. It is an apparent anomaly in this seat which was created in 1997 as an 18th and extra constituency in Northern Ireland, with its near two-thirds Catholic and nationalist majority here in the west of the Troubled province. The seat fringes the border with the Republic, lying between Derry and Enniskillen and including Omagh and Strabane, names with a past, as they say, in the history of conflict. Thompson only won in that first contest because of the near-equal split of his opposition between the SDLP and Sinn Fein, who between them took 63 pc of the total vote to his 34.6 pc. Once again there is a titanic three-way contest, as Thompson, so hard line that his continued presence in David Trimble's party, never mind his support for his leader at all times, has oft seemed in doubt, strives to unite the anti-Agreement vote while two strong nationalist candidates, Brid Rodgers of the SDLP and Pat Doherty of Sinn Fein, slug it out in as well as from the green corner. There is nothing quite like it in any of the other 658 seats in the United Kingdom.

Personality Profile by Byron Criddle
William Thompson is a hard-line anti-power-sharing Unionist who unexpectedly won here in 1997. In late 1999 he announced he was leaving the Ulster Unionist Party but, followed by none of his colleagues, quickly "de-announced" his decision. An averagely fluent owner of a TV rental business, and representing beleaguered West-of-the-Bann Protestants, he was born in 1939 and attended Omagh Academy. He is a vocal opponent of David Trimble, and collaborator with Ian Paisley, whose votes he needs to have any chance of holding this Catholic-majority seat. He has also bothered - unlike most Unionist MPs - to come over regularly in order to vote against homosexual sex at 16. He faces challenges from moderate (SDLP) and hard line (Sinn Fein) nationalists, respectively Brid Rodgers, a 66-year-old grandmother born in County Donegal who is the popular Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister, and Pat Doherty, Gerry Adams's deputy, Glasgow-born but now equipped with an Irish accent. Both, however, look like cancelling each other out and enabling Willie Thompson to win again on a third of the vote. Alternatively, victory for either Rodgers or Doherty in this SDLP - Sinn Fein arm-wrestle could establish which party claims the right to speak for Ulster's nationalist community.

2001 Results - General Election (7 June 2001)
Pat Doherty
SF gain
SF Pat Doherty 19,814 40.83%
SDLP Brid Rodgers 13,942 28.73%
UUP William Thompson 14,774 30.44%
Candidates representing 3 parties stood for election to this seat.

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