Fermanagh and South Tyrone by-election, August 1981


Fermanagh and South Tyrone by-election, August 1981

The Fermanagh and South Tyrone by-election, August 1981 was the second by-election in the same year, held in Fermanagh and South Tyrone on August 20 1981. It was seen by many as a rerun of the earlier contest in April. The by-election was caused by the death of the IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands.

Background of the constituency

"Main Articles: Fermanagh and South Tyrone (UK Parliament constituency) and Fermanagh & South Tyrone by-election, 1981 (April)"

The constituency, based on the districts of Fermanagh and Dungannon, was created in 1950 and had seen a series of closely fought elections between Unionist and Nationalist candidates, with several elections being won due to the absence of competing candidates on one side or the other.

The April by-election was a straight contest between Sands, standing as "Anti-H-Block/Armagh Political Prisoner" and the former Ulster Unionist MP and leader Harry West, with no other candidates standing. Sands won with a majority of 1446 (and with 3280 spoilt ballot papers).

Candidates in the 1981 by-election

Following Sands' victory and death shortly afterwards, the British government passed legislation barring "convicted felons" from standing for Parliament. As a result another prisoner on hunger strike could not be nominated. Instead Owen Carron, who had served as Sands' agent in the earlier election, was nominated as a "Anti-H-Block Proxy Political Prisoner".

The Ulster Unionists nominated a new candidate, Ken Maginnis, who had recently retired from the Ulster Defence Regiment with the rank of Major, who was on the liberal wing of the party. Maginnis was unusual amongst Ulster Unionist candidates as he had never been a member of the Orange Order.

The new by-election also saw four additional candidates stand. Seamus Close stood for the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland even though this was traditionally one of their weakest areas. Tom Moore stood for the Workers Party Republican Clubs who were descended from the Official IRA. Two fringe candidates also stood: Martin Green on a "General Amnesty" ticket and Simon Hall-Raleigh as "The Peace Lover."

Results

The turnout was 88.6%. There were 804 spoilt votes.

Election box begin
title=Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Election box candidate with party link
party = Anti H-Block
candidate = Owen Carron
votes = 31,278
percentage = 49.1
change = -3.1
Election box candidate with party link
party = Ulster Unionist Party
candidate = Ken Maginnis
votes = 29,048
percentage = 45.6
change = -4.2
Election box candidate with party link
party = Alliance Party of Northern Ireland
candidate = Seamus Close
votes = 1,930
percentage = 3.0
change = N/A
Election box candidate with party link
party = Republican Clubs
candidate = Tom Moore
votes = 1,132
percentage = 1.8
change = N/A
Election box candidate
party = General Amnesty
candidate = Martin Green
votes = 249
percentage = 0.4
change = N/A
Election box candidate
party = The Peace Lover
candidate = Simon Hall-Raleigh
votes = 90
percentage = 0.1
change = N/A
Election box majority
votes = 2,230
percentage =
change =
Election box turnout
votes =
percentage = 88.6
change = 1.7

Compared to the April election, turnout rose by 1.7%, whilst there were over two and a half thousand fewer spoilt papers. Most of these additional votes went to the additional parties standing.


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