Constituency report: South Belfast

South Belfast is affluent, diverse and ethnically rich - longstanding communities live alongside students and immigrants, and cafe culture abounds.

When it comes to elections, South Belfast is quite the blend, but this time around Brexit has brewed up a more straightforward menu.

A number of parties have filtered the choice for voters, opting not to stand their candidates and that has dramatically changed the flavour of this battle.

Last time around the DUP’s Emma Little-Pengelly was the people’s choice.

The DUP's Emma Little-Pengelly. Credit: UTV

There were less than 2,000 votes in it as she defeated the SDLP’s Alasdair McDonnell, but her seat is far from secure amid a number of electoral maneuvers.

It all makes for a pretty tasty menu - Sinn Féin aren’t standing, they polled 7,143 votes last time around.

Neither are the Green Party, who received 2,241 votes in 2017. The party’s Clare Bailey has given her backing to the SDLP’s Claire Hanna, who is running.

The SDLP's Claire Hanna. Credit: UTV

Alliance’s Paula Bradshaw is another option for voters, and late into the frame is the Ulster Unionist Party’s Michael Henderson who stood last time too.

Emma Little-Pengelly fights to keep the South Belfast seat, and she is very aware of the fierce fight she faces.

“There will be some who try to persuade people to vote simply on this issue of Brexit or Remain, but what people need to ask themselves is what type of MP do they want,” she said.

“Do they want somebody who’s going to be a strong voice for them, somebody who will work hard for them?

“It will be a very tight race that is the nature of South Belfast - every vote will count.”

At SDLP HQ, Claire Hanna concedes this election has thrown up awkward decisions for her party, but she believes her chances are good.

“I think I can win, I absolutely believe I can,” she said.

“As somebody who has been rooted in this community for decades and can attract votes and has votes from across the community, I certainly can win.

“But we’ll take absolutely nothing for granted, this is incredibly tight.”

The Alliance Party's Paula Bradshaw. Credit: UTV

Alliance have faced flack for potentially splitting the Remain vote in this pro-Remain constituency.

Paula Bradshaw said: “We are really, really buzzing, our campaign we still feel the Alliance surge is there and that people are switching to us from quarters that people probably aren’t and wouldn’t be expecting.

“So people may think I’m the outsider, I’m certainly not getting that vibe as I’m going round the doors.”

The UUP's Michael Henderson. Credit: UTV

The UUP have had some backlash for not standing aside here as they’ve done in the north of the city.

Michael Henderson said: “I think the unionist voter needs to have a clear choice.

“We are not for Brexit, we can’t accept Brexit as it is with the Prime Minister, and we need to give our electorate that choice.”

So as candidates prepare to brave the elements over the next few weeks and make those final pitches, South Belfast waits to find out who will represent it at the Westminster table.

And with new electoral allegiances being served up, South Belfast remains an unpredictable brew.

Election 2019 Candidates

  • Paula Bradshaw (Alliance)

  • Claire Hanna (SDLP)

  • Michael Henderson (UUP)

  • Emma Little-Pengelly (DUP)

  • Chris McHugh (Aontú)