European Parliament election, 1989 - Northern Ireland

Unlike in the Republic, where there were a number of changes to seats, there was once again no change to the seat totals in Northern Ireland. The Ulster Unionist Party, the Social Democratic and Labour Party, and the Democratic Unionist Party each held their seats, as was widely expected. None of those three parties ran more than one candidate, indeed the only change was that the UUP's John Taylor was replaced by party colleague Jim Nicholson. There was, however, a selection of other parties which contested the election, some of which also did so on the other side of the border.

Democratic Unionist Party

(1 seat, 29.9% of vote)

Ian Paisley was never in any danger of losing his seat, and he topped the poll once more on this occasion. By now, Paisley had earned himself a reputation as a troublemaker in the European Parliament, having interrupted a speech by Margaret Thatcher in 1986 and a speech by Pope John Paul II in 1988, during which he called the pope the "antichrist" and was thrown out of the parliament by his colleagues. However he was perceived by his colleagues, his constituents nevertheless intended for him to remain.

Social Democratic & Labour Party

(1 seat, 25.5% of vote)

Much as the unionist population of Northern Ireland kept Ian Paisley as their representative, nationalists continued to give John Hume a strong vote in Europe. He continued his efforts to bring the issues in Northern Ireland to a wider audience, and the coming decade would see several of his initiatives paying off.

Ulster Unionist Party

(1 seat, 22.2% of vote)

In 1987, UUP MEP John Taylor departed from the party to sit with the European Right group in the parliament, a controversial far-right grouping which Taylor subsequently defended against accusations of fascism. His actions meant that the UUP would replace him in 1989, which they did with Jim Nicholson. Nicholson was elected with over 22% of the vote, a slight increase on the 1984 result. He is still the UUP MEP for Northern Ireland in 2012.

Sinn Féin

(0 seats, 9.2% of vote)

Sinn Féin's Danny Morrison tried again for a seat as he had in 1984, but secured less votes with only 9.2% as opposed to his 13.4% in 1984. Regardless of this setback, he still came fourth, but it would be some time yet before Sinn Féin could look forward to winning a European seat.

Alliance Party

(0 seats, 5.2% of vote)

Although running a new candidate, new party leader John Alderdice, the Alliance Party remained static as far as Europe was concerned, with only a 0.2% increase in their vote share.

Conservative Party

(0 seats, 4.8% of vote)

The Conservative Party, which had been a dominant force in Ulster in the 19th century, gave way to its offshoot, the Irish Unionist Party (later the UUP) in elections on this island after 1918. The running of a Conservative candidate for a Northern Irish European seat was certainly a departure from standard practice, although the party's candidate, Myrtle Boal, received just under 5% of the vote. Nonetheless, this marked the beginnings of a new role for the Tories in Northern Ireland. In later elections they would establish an electoral alliance with the UUP.

Green Party

(0 seats, 1.2% of vote)

Although enjoying an improved share of the vote south of the border, the Green Party in Northern Ireland was still a very minor force. Their candidate Malcolm Samuel won 0.9% more than Colin McGuigan had in 1984, but the party was still a long way off of anyone's radar.

Workers' Party

(0 seats, 1.1% of vote)

The Workers' Party was another party which remained largely neglected in Northern Irish European elections. Their candidate Seamus Lynch actually performed worse than in 1984, with a loss of 0.2% of the vote.


(0 seats, 0.9% of vote)

Two more very minor parties contested this election. Mark Langhammer of the Labour Representation Group came second last with 0.7% of the total vote, beating only Brian Caul of the Labour '87 group, who came last with 0.2%, or just over 1,200 votes.