Phil Flanagan returns with Michelle Gildernew losing out

The Fermanagh/South Tyrone branch of Sinn Fein held their second selection convention tonight after the party’s Ard Chomhairle ordered another convention after the first chose, Michelle Gildernew, Sean Lynch and John Feeley.

However, in a slight shock, Phil Flanagan has returned with Feeley and Lynch as his running mates. The former MP and minister, Michelle Gildernew lost out along with the current MLA, Bronwyn McGahan.

The odd thing about this ticket is that it appears to have no constituency balance that takes in South Tyrone and under-cuts Sinn Fein’s selling point on promoting women in the party. A fact that will be emphasised with Arlene Foster likely topping the poll and leading her first campaign as DUP leader.

However, as Ryan McAteer in the Ulster Herald points out some party rules state there must be 30% female representation on party tickets.

Update

<blockquoteclass=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”>

For the record to those of you speculating tonight, Mid Ulster has excellent candidates to replace @M_McGuinness_SF and my heart’s in #FST.

— Michelle Gildernew(@gildernewm) January 31, 2016

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  • Ernekid

    I get the feeling that Sinn Fein have totally blown it here. Flanagan at best can be described as a mediocrity, at worst a total liability. It looks like Sinn Fein have offered the seat that was lost by Tommy Gallagher in 2011 back to the SDLP on a golden platter. If the SDLP run a candidate based in Dungannon or the Clogher valley then they have a good chance of winning a seat.
    Fermanagh South Tyrone is a big constituency and parties need to geographically balance their tickets between the big towns of Enniskillen and Dungannon. Having an all Fermanagh based, all male ticket is a massive tactical error for Sinn Fein.

  • Cavehill

    Their candidate is Richie McPhillips, Cllr for Erne East.

  • Ernekid

    A quick google shows that he’s a Insurance broker based in ‘Skea but hailing from Newtownbutler. It doesn’t do much to dispel the idea that nationalism is getting to borrow a phrase ‘too male, pale and stale’

  • David

    Given the allegations about the unaccounted for extra votes for Gildernew in the first selection convention in the comment zone of my previous post this is perhaps (a) not a surprise, and (b) quite significant.

    Isn’t Michelle Gildernew a current member of the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle?

  • I think so …and gets to introduce Gerry for his big speech at the ard fheis … they must have another constituency or role in mind.

  • Brendan Heading

    I suspect whatever the story is here, it’s wider than an issue of SF making a bad choice at a selection convention. Something is not right when a popular and long standing representative loses the chance to run for the party on the foot of a re-run selection convention.

  • “they must have another constituency or role in mind.”

    They might have to come up with something quickly. But that wasn’t the plan.

  • Brendan Heading

    On Twitter, Michelle is specifically ruling out standing in Mid Ulster, saying her heart is in FST.

    It has also been noted that SF party executive has the power to overturn the result (something about a 30% gender quota). Whether or not they will do so is another matter.

    Of course, the other option here is for one of the MLAs to “resign” after six months due to allow MG to be co-opted in.

  • Colin Lamont

    Not the 1st time unaccounted votes have appeared for Michelle Gildernew in an election may I say.

  • David

    The odd thing about this ticket is that it appears to have no constituency balance that takes in South Tyrone and under-cuts Sinn Fein’s selling point on promoting women in the party.

    That would be missing the point…

  • Romper Stomper

    SF are known for ruthless hard strategy. Don’t know what they’re up to here

  • You’re making the mistake of thinking that this is part of a strategy.

    It isn’t.

  • Lord Coleraine

    I wouldn’t pick Phil Flanagan over Michelle Gildernew. I wouldn’t pick Phil Flanagan over Bronwyn McGahan. In fact, I probably wouldn’t pick Phil Flanagan over Julius Malema.

  • Kevin Breslin

    You don’t have a say in this matter.

  • Kevin Breslin

    “However, as Ryan McAteer in the Ulster Herald points out some party rules state there must be 30% female representation on party tickets”

    Sinn Féin selected three men in Donegal too.

    The party you probably are thinking of are Fianna Fáil.

  • Lord Coleraine

    I don’t, that’s why I used the conditional tense…

  • Kevin Breslin

    Well is there any condition that could be satisfied that would make you join the Fermanagh-South Tyrone Constituency Council of Sinn Féin?

  • Ryan A

    I would imagine the leadership are between a rock and a hard place on this one. Michelle is a proven vote getter and not having her on the ticket will likely cause a drop in support in a constituency where a third seat is marginal. Likewise, ousting Flanagan for a second time will likely cause fallout in the Fermanagh area of the constituency and potentially let the vote collapse in on itself in his locale. Might do well to nominate the four of them and let the electorate decide. It would drive up the overall SF vote and leach any internal bad blood quickly.

  • Cavehill

    Yes, any SDLP member crowing over the selection of an all male ticket needs to remember they have a three man ticket in Foyle, their leadership team is all male, and their candidate in FST is a man too.

  • murdockp

    Down with communism! Vote for none of the above

  • Lord Coleraine

    Sorry I’ve only just seen this. The answer to your question is no. This particular situation would make be join the FST SDLP, if I were in that part of the region.

  • I don’t think any SDLP people is crowing over an all male selection. Iv seen a few hitting back at Sinn Fein members who attacked SDLP on their Foyle candidates.

    The big question for the SDLP will be if they run 2 or not. With no females running for SF (Yet) and no South Tyrone candidate, there is a big chance for SDLP to gain votes by doing exactly that. Can they risk running 2 however?

  • Red Bhoy

    What is going on? Michelle Gildernew has been nothing but great for the entire community down there and now SF cant get her run!! FFS