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Traditional Unionist Voice

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Traditional Unionist Voice
LeaderJim Allister
ChairmanJordan Armstrong
PresidentWilliam Ross
Founded7 December 2007
Split fromDemocratic Unionist Party
Headquarters139 Holywood Road, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Political positionRight-wing[4]
Colours      Blue (primarily), red and white
House of Commons
(NI Seats)
0 / 18
NI Assembly
1 / 90
Local government in Northern Ireland[5]
7 / 462
Website Edit this at Wikidata

The Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) is a unionist political party in Northern Ireland. In common with all other Northern Irish unionist parties, the TUV's political programme has as its sine qua non the preservation of Northern Ireland's place within the United Kingdom. A founding precept of the party is that “nothing which is morally wrong can be politically right”.[6]

The TUV was formed in December 2007 by Jim Allister after he and others had resigned from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in March of that year.[7] At the time of his resignation, Allister was a prominent figure in the DUP and held the position of Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the party having been elected to the European Parliament in 2004. The reason for the split was DUP leader Ian Paisley's March 2007 consent to the St Andrews Agreement and his willingness to become First Minister of Northern Ireland alongside a deputy First Minister from the Irish Republican party Sinn Féin.[8]

Prior to the St Andrews Agreement, the DUP had presented itself as an 'anti-Agreement' unionist party[9] opposed to numerous aspects of the Good Friday Agreement e.g. the release of paramilitary prisoners before the end of their jail sentences and the participation of Sinn Fein in the Northern Ireland government without complete decommissioning of IRA weapons and cessation of all IRA activity. The TUV has been an exception among Northern Irish unionist parties in consistently opposing the presence of Sinn Fein in the Northern Ireland government.[10] After Allister's resignation from the DUP, he continued to occupy his European Parliament seat, sitting as an Independent MEP until the following European election in 2009 when he was not re-elected.

In terms of both electoral success and financial income [11] Traditional Unionist Voice is the third largest unionist party in Northern Ireland, behind the Democratic Unionist Party and the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). It is usually considered by political commentators to be a 'small party' and characterised as being more 'hardline' than other Northern Irish unionist parties.[12]

Since 2011, the TUV has occupied one seat in the Northern Ireland Assembly. The party also holds a small number of seats on local councils. Its most prominent elected representative and best-known figure remains Jim Allister whose North Antrim constituency is the heartland of the party.

Since 2008, the party President of the TUV has been former East Londonderry Westminster MP William Ross.


Traditional Unionist Voice is more hardline than the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP),[12] which it split from, criticising it for compromising too much with Irish republicans. TUV is a right-wing[4] unionist[1] and loyalist party.[13] It opposes the Good Friday Agreement,[2] particularly unionists (traditionally the largest bloc) having to share power with Irish nationalists, arguing that coalition governments should be voluntary.[14] It opposes the participation of former IRA members in Northern Ireland politics and Sinn Féin members in government,[14] and sees the majority of their leadership as terrorists. The Good Friday Agreement offered amnesties to both sides, but TUV opposes amnesties for Irish republicans.[15] It also wants to reduce political co-operation with the Republic of Ireland through North-South bodies.[14]

TUV espouses national conservatism[1] and social conservatism.[1] Jim Allister opposed a motion pardoning gay men convicted for formerly illegal homosexual acts.[16]

It also took a hard Eurosceptic stance in the Brexit debate.[3]

Election history

Local by-elections

The party's first electoral contest was the Dromore local government by-election for Banbridge District Council[17] which took place on 13 February 2008[18] with its candidate being Dromore solicitor, Keith Harbinson. He took 19.5% of the first preference votes cast.

TUV was the last party to be eliminated, and more of its votes transferred to the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) than to the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), enabling the former to retain its seat.[19]

At a Craigavon Borough Council local by-election in Lurgan on 14 January 2010, the TUV candidate won 19.3% of first preference votes. The UUP candidate, Jo-Anne Dobson, won with 63.9%. The DUP did not contest the seat.

2009 European Parliament election

Jim Allister, leader of TUV, contested the European Parliament election on 4 June 2009. He stood on a ticket of opposition to the DUP/Sinn Féin-led Northern Ireland Executive.[20] The election turned out to be hotly contested, with the unionist vote split three ways. Sinn Féin's sitting MEP Bairbre de Brún topped the poll (a first for any Irish nationalist candidate). The Ulster Conservative and Unionist candidate Jim Nicholson took the second seat, with Diane Dodds of the DUP coming in third place, defeating Allister. TUV polled 66,000 votes. Allister called the results a victory for unionism and indicated his intention to stand TUV candidates in future Northern Ireland Assembly and parliamentary elections. He additionally argued that the election represented the "depth of feeling that there is among many unionists who refuse to be rolled over in the era of Sinn Féin rule, who have quite rightly a resentment against those who betrayed them, deceived them, conned them, in the assembly election."

Party Candidate Seats Loss/GainFirst Preference Votes Seat
Number % of vote
Sinn Féin Bairbre de Brún 1 0 126,184 25.8 1st
DUP Diane Dodds 1 0 88,346 18.1 3rd
UCU-NF Jim Nicholson 1 0 82,892 17.0 2nd
SDLP Alban Maginness 0 0 78,489 16.1
TUV Jim Allister 0 0 66,197 13.5
Alliance Ian Parsley 0 0 26,699 5.5
Green (NI) Steven Agnew 0 0 15,764 3.2
Turnout[21] 488,891 42.8

Source: RTÉ News

2010 Westminster general election

On 6 May at the 2010 general election for the Westminster parliament, TUV received 26,300 votes across Northern Ireland, a large drop on what it had received in the previous year's European elections. In the same election, the DUP received 168,216 votes and the UCUNF received 102,361 votes. The TUV failed to win any of the 10 seats it contested. A week after the election, TUV acknowledged on their website that the results had been "disappointing".[22]

Constituency Candidate Votes % Position
Belfast East David Vance 1,856 5.4 4
East Antrim Sammy Morrison 1,826 6.0 6
East Londonderry William Ross 2,572 7.4 5
Lagan Valley Keith Harbinson 3,154 8.6 4
Mid Ulster Walter Millar 2,995 7.3 5
North Antrim Jim Allister 7,114 16.8 2
North Down Kaye Kilpatrick 1,634 4.9 4
South Antrim Mel Lucas 1,829 5.4 6
South Down Ivor McConnell 1,506 3.5 5
Strangford Terry Williams 1,814 5.6 5

2011 council elections

Traditional Unionist Voice fielded 41 candidates in the 2011 Northern Ireland local elections. It received 2% of the overall vote. Two TUV candidates were elected in Ballymena, and one each in Moyle, Ballymoney, Larne and Limavady.[23]

2011 Northern Ireland Assembly election

The party fielded 12 candidates for the 2011 Northern Ireland Assembly election. TUV received 16,480 votes or 2.5% of the poll, which was a drop in the number of votes received in the 2010 election. Eleven candidates were unsuccessful but in the North Antrim constituency Jim Allister received 4,061 first preference votes (10.1%), and on the ninth and last count was deemed to be elected without reaching the quota of 5,760 votes.[24]

2014 European Parliament election

In the 2014 European Parliament election, Allister once again contested the Northern Ireland constituency. On this occasion he polled 75,806 first preference votes, 12.1% of the total.[25] This represented an increase in the number of votes, but a decrease of just over one percentage point in terms of vote share. Allister again failed to be elected, with Sinn Féin, the DUP and UUP all retaining their seats. Allister was eliminated in the sixth of eight counts.[26]

2014 council elections

In the 2014 Northern Ireland local elections (held on the same day as the European election) for the eleven new local councils in Northern Ireland, TUV candidates polled a total of 28,310 first preference votes, or 4.5%, an increase on the previous council elections. The party had 13 successful candidates.[27] They achieved their largest number of councillors in Mid and East Antrim, where they became the third-largest party with five seats. They won three seats in Causeway Coast and Glens, two in Antrim and Newtownabbey and one each in Belfast, North Down and Ards and Lisburn and Castlereagh.

2015 United Kingdom general election

The party stood in seven constituencies in the 2015 general election, taking second in North Antrim but failing to place in the top four elsewhere.

Constituency Candidate Votes % Position
East Antrim Ruth Wilson 1,903 5.7 6
Lagan Valley Samuel Morrison 1,887 4.7 6
Mid Ulster Gareth Ferguson 1,892 4.6 5
North Antrim Timothy Gaston 6,561 15.7 2
North Down William Cudworth 686 1.9 7
South Antrim Rick Cairns 1,908 5.2 6
Strangford Stephen Cooper 1,701 5.1 7

2016 Northern Ireland Assembly election

The party stood 15 candidates in 14 constituencies in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly election, winning 23,776 first-preference votes (3.4% of the overall vote share). Jim Allister retained his seat in North Antrim, but the party was unable to gain any additional MLAs.

Constituency Candidate Votes % Position
(after transfers)
Belfast East Andrew Girvin 887 3.7 12
Belfast North John Miller 644 1.8 13
Belfast South John Andrew Hiddleston 495 1.3 12
East Antrim Ruth Wilson 1,643 5.1 10
East Londonderry Jordon Armstrong 1,191 3.5 11
Fermanagh and South Tyrone Donald Crawford 1,164 2.5 10
Lagan Valley Lyle Rea 1,291 3.3 10
Mid Ulster Hanna Loughrin 1,877 4.6 8
North Antrim Jim Allister 5,399 13.2 2
North Antrim Timothy Gaston 1,955 4.8 9
North Down John Brennan 610 1.9 12
South Antrim Rick Cairns 1,318 3.8 10
South Down Henry Reilly 2,718 6.6 10
Strangford Stephen Cooper 1,407 4.3 10
Upper Bann Roy Ferguson 1,177 2.6 10

2017 Northern Ireland Assembly election

Jim Allister retained his seat in North Antrim in the 2017 Northern Ireland Assembly election.[28]

2017 United Kingdom general election

In 2017, the party stood a single candidate in the 2017 general election.

Constituency Candidate Votes % Position
North Antrim Timothy Gaston 3,282 6.8 4

2019 United Kingdom general election

TUV chose not to stand any candidates in the 2019 general election.[29]

2022 Northern Ireland Assembly election

The TUV campaign for the 2022 Northern Ireland Assembly election prioritised a theme of opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol.[30] The party's candidates were designated on the ballot paper as representing "TUV - No Sea Border".[31] For the first time in the party's history it stood a candidate in each of the 18 constituencies which elect the Northern Ireland Assembly.

TUV candidates won 65,788 first preference votes, more than three times the party's score in the 2017 Assembly election[32] and 7.5% of the total first preference vote but only one of the 90 members elected to the new Northern Ireland Assembly was a TUV candidate; Jim Allister in the North Antrim constituency. Under the Single Transferable Vote system of proportional representation used in Northern Ireland[33] a disproportionality between outcome in seats and first preference vote share can arise when a party is eliminated from the count because it has been less successful at obtaining lower preference votes on the ballot paper than at obtaining first preference votes.[34]

Constituency Candidate First pref. votes % Votes at elimination Count eliminated
Belfast East John Ross 3,087 7.1 3,426.32 10th
Belfast North Ron McDowell 3,335 7.2 4,261.41 10th
Belfast South Andrew Girvin 1,935 4.1 1,979.9 4th
Belfast West Jordan Doran 802 1.8 918.38 7th
East Antrim Norman Boyd 3,661 9.1 4,467.30 5th
East Londonderry Jordan Armstrong 2,959 6.7 3,737 7th
Fermanagh & South Tyrone Alex Elliott 3,091 5.8 3,351.06 5th
Foyle Elizabeth Neely 499 1.1 501.84 4th
Lagan Valley Lorna Smyth 3,488 6.8 4,575.8 6th
Mid Ulster Glenn Moore 3,818 7.4 5,365 8th
Newry and Armagh Keith Ratcliffe 5,407 9.2 6,892 5th
North Antrim Jim Allister 8,282 16.4 8,625.99 5th (elected)
Matthew Armstrong 2,481 4.9 2,726.27 5th
North Down John Gordon 1,574 3.8 2,098.1 7th
South Antrim Mel Lucas 4,371 9.6 4,660.85 4th
South Down Harold McKee 3,273 6.0 4,117.97 5th
Strangford Stephen Cooper 5,186 12.7 5,924.01 9th
Upper Bann Darrin Foster 4,373 7.8 4,626 4th
West Tyrone Trevor Clarke 4,166 9.1 4,884.55 7th



In November 2009, the party caused controversy when it referred to the Irish language as a "leprechaun language" on its website.[37] The statement was issued under the name of TUV vice-chairman Keith Harbinson and condemned the Department of Education for "wasting" money on teaching of the Irish language.[37] The party later removed the phrase, but the original page had already been spread on numerous other websites.[37]

In December 2009, TUV member Trevor Collins promoted a petition to release former Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) member Torrens Knight from prison where the latter was serving a four month sentence for assault on two people in Coleraine. Torrens Knight had previously served seven years imprisonment for taking part in the Greysteel and the Castlerock terrorist killings but had been given early release from his jail sentence in 2000 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. At the time, the TUV was widely criticised for refusing to suspend Collins from the party. Their response was that Collins had acted in a 'misguided' fashion which they did not support but that members of government in Northern Ireland had done or had excused actions much worse than those committed by Torrens in this instance.[38]

In November 2012, former Irish rugby union international and then Ballymena TUV councillor David Tweed was convicted on 13 counts of sexual offences against two young girls. Pending sentencing he remained a member of Ballymena Borough Council and of TUV.[39] TUV stated that the sex offences related "to a period long before he was a member of this party".[40] In January 2013, Tweed was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment. TUV chose one of its unsuccessful 2011 candidates, Timothy Gaston, to replace Tweed as councillor.[41] David Tweed's conviction was quashed in October 2016.[42]

In August 2021, an organisation based in Derry called the Bloody Sunday Trust criticised remarks made in 2019 by the TUV's then Assembly election candidate for East Belfast, John Ross. Mr Ross had made a speech referencing a quote by a member of the Parachute regiment involved in the events of Bloody Sunday (1972) when 14 Catholic people were killed by paratroopers in Londonderry. The quote in question described the parachute regiment's activities that day as “A good operation, a job well done. They all came out alive”. The Bloody Sunday Trust protested that “Bloody Sunday has been the subject of a meticulous public inquiry which found that all those killed and wounded were innocent”. The TUV, in turn, replied that there had been “various conflicting judicial findings” and that Mr Ross's words had been taken out of context by the Bloody Sunday Trust.[43]


Leader Born Term start Term end
1 Jim Allister
1953 7 December 2007 Incumbent


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  2. ^ a b "About TUV". Traditional Unionist Voice. Archived from the original on 12 March 2021. Retrieved 20 March 2021.
  3. ^ a b Three Compelling Reasons to Vote Leave Archived 2 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine. Traditional Unionist Voice (official website). Published 20 June 2016. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  4. ^ a b Walsh, John (30 April 2021). "Don't envy the next DUP leader. They face an almost impossible job". Archived from the original on 14 May 2021. Retrieved 14 May 2021 – via
  5. ^ "Local Council Political Compositions". Open Council Date UK. 7 January 2018. Archived from the original on 30 September 2017. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
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  7. ^ "Seventh councillor leaves the DUP". BBC News. 5 April 2007. Retrieved 23 August 2022. ; "New Unionist grouping to be launched". BBC News. 7 December 2007. Retrieved 23 August 2022. ; "New unionist movement opens anti-accord Voice". 4 July 2008. Retrieved 23 August 2022.
  8. ^ "So what's the DUP strategy?". 28 November 2007. Retrieved 30 August 2022.
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  10. ^ "TUV will never be bridesmaid for Sinn Fein, Allister tells conference". 14 March 2022. Retrieved 28 August 2022.
  11. ^ "DUP income drops to an 11-year low putting the party behind the Ulster Unionists – and far in the shadow of Sinn Fein". 17 August 2022. Retrieved 29 August 2022.
  12. ^ a b "Why does the small TUV party frighten the DUP so much?". The Irish Times. 19 June 2021.
  13. ^ "Survey of loyalists shows that half would vote for TUV". The News Letter. 31 August 2021.
  14. ^ a b c "Jim Allister says TUV 'can be catalyst for change'". BBC News. 11 April 2011.
  15. ^ "Traditional Unionist Voice Leaflet" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 May 2009. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  16. ^ "Northern Assembly passes motion to pardon gay men for homosexual acts". The Irish Times. 29 November 2016.
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  18. ^ "by-election date". Archived from the original on 21 February 2011. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  19. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 25 February 2008.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ "Who is Jim Allister?". Archived from the original on 11 April 2012. Retrieved 9 June 2009.
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  22. ^ "Thank you to TUV voters and workers | Traditional Unionist Voice". Archived from the original on 25 October 2011. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  23. ^ "Northern Ireland Council Elections". BBC News. Archived from the original on 22 August 2018. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  24. ^ "UTV - Northern Ireland Assembly election 2011: North Antrim constituency profile & candidates". Archived from the original on 19 April 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  25. ^ "BBC News - Vote 2014: Northern Ireland European election result". BBC News. 27 May 2014. Archived from the original on 17 October 2014. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  26. ^ "BBC Northern Ireland Locals Result" (PDF). BBC News. 2014.
  27. ^ "Vote 2014 Election Results for Councils in Northern Ireland - BBC News". Archived from the original on 18 January 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  28. ^ Report: Northern Ireland Assembly Election, 2 March 2017|author=Dr. Raymond Russell||date=8 March 2017|accessdate=6 May 2022}}
  29. ^ McCormack, Jayne (14 November 2019). "General Election 2019: NI candidates confirmed". BBC News. Archived from the original on 15 November 2019. Retrieved 8 December 2019. Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) has decided not to run any candidates in this election, having only fielded one candidate in 2017.
  30. ^ "TUV manifesto 2022" (PDF). 8 August 2022.
  31. ^ "'TUV - No Sea Border' given approval for ballot papers". 2 April 2022.
  32. ^ "Northern Ireland Assembly Election Results 2022". BBC News. Retrieved 14 July 2022.
  33. ^ "The Electoral Office of Northern Ireland - EONI".
  34. ^ Farrell, David M.; Katz, Richard S. (12 May 2014). "Assessing the Proportionality of the Single Transferable Vote". Representation. 50 (1): 13–26. doi:10.1080/00344893.2014.902212. S2CID 153678364. ;Curtice, Prof. Sir John. "The Power of Preferences: STV in Scottish Local Elections". Electoral Reform Society. Retrieved 26 April 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link) ;Gilmour, James. "DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE STV COUNT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE RULES IN THE SCOTTISH LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS ORDER 2007" (PDF). Retrieved 25 May 2007.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  35. ^ "Northern Ireland Assembly Election Results 2022". BBC News. Retrieved 6 May 2022.
  36. ^ "Northern Ireland Assembly election 2022 -". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 7 May 2022.
  37. ^ a b c "TUV sorry for 'leprechaun' slur". BBC News. 6 November 2009. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  38. ^ "TUV won't take action over Knight petition". BBC News. 4 December 2009. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  39. ^ "Former Irish rugby international David Tweed guilty of child sex abuse". Belfast Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2 January 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  40. ^ "Tweed remarks hurt family, says mum of murder victim", The Irish News, 30 November 2012
  41. ^ Maeve Connolly, "TUV replaces sex abuser ex-councillor", The Irish News, 16 February 2013
  42. ^ "David Tweed may not face retrial on child sex abuse allegations". News Letter. 14 December 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
  43. ^ "TUV defend east Belfast candidate John Ross over criticism of 2019 Bloody Sunday comments". Belfast Telegraph. 5 August 2021.

External links

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