Election 2015 Northern Ireland

Election profile: Traditional Unionist Voice

The Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) was born out of a split in the Democratic Unionist Party.

Its founder, Jim Allister, a former barrister, broke away from the DUP in March 2007 over its decision to share power with Sinn Féin.


Image copyright Brian Lawless
Image caption Jim Allister broke away from the Democratic Unionists in March 2007

New life

At the time, Mr Allister was the DUP's European MEP, having topped the poll in 2005 when he succeeded Ian Paisley.

Announcing his departure, Mr Allister said he was quitting the DUP with immense sadness, but was taking a principled stand. He declared Sinn Féin "unfit" for government.

However, Mr Allister did not give up his European seat, and from this position, he breathed new life into anti-Agreement unionism.

In December 2007, he launched a new unionist anti-agreement force. The TUV's first electoral test soon followed in a by-election in Dromore, County Down

The party's candidate, Keith Harbinson, polled about 700 votes, and came third behind the DUP and Ulster Unionists. The TUV took an estimated 40% of the DUP's usual vote and deprived it of victory.


Image copyright Brian Lawless
Image caption Jim Allister is often seen as a thorn in the side of the Democratic Unionists

Disaffected unionists

Mr Allister declared the 14 February poll result an "unhappy Valentine's day for the Chuckle brothers".

This was a reference to the relationship between the then DUP First Minister Ian Paisley and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

The TUV continued to recruit from the ranks of disaffected unionists, in an attempt to defend the European seat in June 2009.

In June 2009, Mr Allister lost his European seat to the DUP's Diane Dodds. But, nevertheless, he polled 13.5% - some 66,000 votes. This cost his old party its poll-topping position.

In 2014, his European vote rose to 75,000.

Mr Allister stood in North Antrim in the 2010 General Election.

This is the DUP's citadel and he was taking on Ian Paisley Jr, the son of the outgoing MP. Mr Allister came second with 7,000 votes compared to the 19,000 polled by Ian Paisley.

In 2011, Mr Allister was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly and is seen as a thorn in the side of the DUP, as well as a frequently lone voice of opposition to the mandatory coalition.