#AE16 #Foyle: Eamonn McCann’s strong chance likely to slip to a reviving SDLP vote

Candidates: [SDLP] Colum Eastwood, Mark H. Durkan, Gerard Diver; [Sinn Fein] Martin McGuinness, Maeve McLoughlin, Raymond McCartney; [DUP] Gary Middleton; [UUP] Julia Kee; [PBP] Eamonn McCann; [Alliance] Chris McCaw; [Greens] Mary Hassan; [NI Conservatives] Alan Dunlop; [CISTA NI] John Lindsay; [Independents] Kathleen Bradley; Maurice Devenney; Dr. Ann McCloskey.

Eleven of its 28 wards are amongst the 10% most deprived in Northern Ireland. But the real paradox of Foyle is that it also has the second highest rate (after uber prosperous South Belfast) of people who go into higher education.

Foyle is really ‘greater Derry’. West bank wise, it grabs everything not in the Republic. On the east, it balloons through rural areas out to the airport, running down through Lettershandoney then hitting the river at Magheramason.

Interestingly Nicholas Whyte’s on Ark notes that only one seat is in contention here: ie, the third SDLP seat. But, he says “if they lose it it will not be to SF but to a local independent or small party candidate”.

SF’s public optimism rests on the Assembly vote in 2011 when, proportionately, Sinn Fein only trailed the SDLP by a few hundred 1st preferences.

They then overtook them in Nicholas’ extrapolated council results of 2014, although that rests awkwardly on the withdrawal of the SDLP whip from Cllr Jimmy Carr just before that election.

Last year in the Westminster elections, however, Mark Durkan pulled in 17,725 votes, bringing his vote share to a healthy 47.9%. The party won’t get that this time as lent unionist votes will be needed to play their own home game this time.

In 2011, Eastwood was the backmarker in the pack with Mark H Durkan leading the way. In addition, veteran Pat Ramsey (originally from the Bogside till he was forced to move out) stepped down before Christmas for then councillor Gerard Diver.

On the Sinn Fein side, the problem is two-fold. In this highly competitive constituency,  SF votes over the last three elections have been flat-lining: 11,716 in 2015, and dropping slightly to 11,679 for the Westminster candidate last year.

A Martin McGuinness boost ought to flush out soft Sinn Fein voters, but that boost has not been evident in recent years. They must also balance the ticket: and in Maeve McLaughlin they have a co-opted MLA who has to face an election.

Eamonn McCann is in the field again for People Before Profit. His 2011 Assembly performance gave the SDLP a run for their money losing to Eastwood by a few hundred votes. He might be a shoo-in if it wasn’t for one major complicating factor.

Dr Anne McCloskey, an independent based in Shantallow is running on a strongly pro-Life ticket. She has the support of two IRSP councillors and another from 32 County Sovereignty. So #TeamMcCloskey almost entirely consists of dissident Republicans.

It’s an odd combination, not least since the IRSP are simultaneously involved in a pro-choice campaign just across the border in Donegal. Buoyed by their council results (independents took 3890 or 11% of the total vote), they see this as an upgrade opportunity.

Sinn Fein has been trying (thus far with little success) to flag this situation to a press that seems not to be interested. It’s a block to any outside chance of taking the third seat and an unwanted drag on McCann who is the only outsider with a chance.

Despite the hoo-ha over former DUP man Maurice Devenney running as an independent on the Unionist side, internal transfers and a healthy vote figure in 2011 well in excess of a Unionist quota should see his former party colleague Gary Middleton home safely.

 Prediction: SDLP 3, Sinn Fein 2, DUP 1

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  • Skibo

    Mary its been 18 years since the GFA and 19 years since the last IRA ceasefire. How much longer before we accept SF are a political party based on politics only?

  • Skibo

    Lives have been taken on all sides. Very few have completely clean hands. If not involved, did not divulge information!
    We can live in the past if you want or we can move forward and take people on face value.

  • Kevin Breslin

    You want to end free prescriptions? Yeah, just kidding.

    The former speaker was well respected from across the community, praised by both nationalist parties for his work on parades and with the Harbor Commission.

  • mary

    Past is here and now. Murders hide behind British justice establishment PIRA PSF Army Council all guilty as sin deal done bloody Sunday, bloody Friday. Go and get an education all about power before people greed money talks. Not wasting my time on those who are so blind can not see evil

  • mary

    Justice & accountability murder is murder justice accountability full stop thousands more suffering from PTSD NI politics murdered Civil Rights the right to life. No matter how long ago heinous crimes against humanity justice nothing moreally nothing less. Who do you think you are crime is crimes, do the time

  • Skibo

    Mary the past is the past. If you live in it you have lost not only the present but also the future. Time to move on.
    Are you trying to say that IRA and British establishment are the same thing?
    I have seen evil and I have seen good on both sides.

  • mary

    Learn to listen, maybe to just might Lerner something about lost lives. Get the book

  • Skibo

    What book? I lived through the troubles. I have no problem with SF.

  • barnshee

    “Ah yes the great myth finally wheeled out.”

    Hardly 14-15000 gone – businesses sold /stolen

    http://sluggerotoole.com/2008/01/10/exodus-how-derry-lost-its-protestants/comment-page-1/

    “numbers of how many Protestant civilians were killed in Derry by the IRA in sectarian attacks”

    According to the McKeown database

    http://www.cain.ulst.ac.uk/victims/mckeown/index.html

    67 Protestants murdered by the republican gangs

  • barnshee

    The Union flag is the state flag -suck it up -or get enough support to change
    The tricolour is (currently) the flag of another state

  • Backbencher

    It might be 19 years since the ‘ceasefire’ but it is most certainly not 19 years since they fired their last shot (indeed it is not even 19 months). Go visit some of the IRA strongholds e.g. South Armagh, and tell the people that SF are ‘based on politics only’.

  • Gopher

    Are they familiar with Diver? Look at the transfers in the last election Durkan and Ramsey the two more well known candidates got transfers the other pair did not . Ramsey despite being below Eastwood and Callaghan on the coupon. I don’t believe the Eastwood name will generate many more transfers than last time. I believe Durkan will get the most first preferences of the SDLP first preferences, I also believe he will subsequently get by a margin several times the most transfers.. Transfers across the spectrum are the SDLP’s life support presently unlike SF who rely simply on 1st round scores and transfer discipline. Transfers get shredded or unbalanced 1 of the 3 SDLP guys is in trouble and as I said it’s not going to be Durkan. 1500 hundred unionist transfers will find a home somewhere.

  • John Gorman

    The abysmal vote share for nationalist parties in places like North Down, East Belfast, Lagan Valley and Strangford would contradict your statement. A lucid survey not that long ago stated the majority of Alliance votes are from those of a Catholic background

  • Granni Trixie

    To impose such a definition is simplistic and does not match up to the reality. but then we’ve been here before many times on Slugger,,haven’t we? So much for self definition. .

  • Gingray

    Granni – if it was only my own definition, then you could be right, but a cursory glance online shows it to be a common perception of NUM. Cooper and Napier had both beein in Unionist parties when they joined the NUM as well.

    None of this is to take away from the excellent work the NUM did and the creation of a genuine liberal party.

    But while Alliance say all the right things, they have minimal appeal outside constituencies which are predominantly protestant, with elected representatives who are predominantly protestant and, if you examine council election results, they have minimal support outside of the A/B social class.

    So the perception of Alliance being a posh liberal soft unionist party has some merit, whether you agree with it or not. Because it does have such a positive and forward thinking message I have no doubt it will attract support from people of all backgrounds, but they are undoubtedly a minority, and as such the party does not reflect NI.

  • Skibo

    Can you attribute all actions by people who were in the IRA to the PIRA who went on ceasefire? The CC stated after the last murder, former members.

  • Granni Trixie

    ah…from your response the problem seems to be your use of the term “British” (though I accept many of the points you raise).
    On point of information, Oliver Napier was Vice President of the Ulster Liberal Party. I am also a member from early 70s and definitely come from working class roots so maybe you can see why from experience I do not accept easy labels.

  • Johnny Magnum

    How convenient of you to ignore my questions. I asked you why are the residents of The Fountain remaining . A RUC officer or soldier is not a civilian. Also the people lifted for Paul McCauley’s murder were from the Fountain. So sorry to demyth your whole “under siege” mentality. Furthermore saying you are so big on stats it may upset your loyalist thinking but since the GFA in 1998 more Catholics have been killed in sectarian attacks than Protestants. Truth hurts doesn’t it.

  • Johnny Magnum

    Forgive him, he has a mental affliction called loyalism. That explains the nonsense he talks.

  • Gingray

    Granni
    There is no problem – it’s merely a comment on Alliance party, its roots, and why it seems to have a massive disconnect with a large portion of the Northern Ireland electorate.

    The Ulster Liberal Party was a Unionist Party – albeit a very forward thinking one. And as I said, I am sure many in Alliance then and now came from a working class background, but I would suggest that are a minority. The current crop of MLAs does not make me think that its changed that much tbh.

    BTW I vote Alliance – I do not hate the party and admire the ambivalent stance on the constitutional issue which gets them hammered from Unionists and Nationalists both accusing them of being the other.

    But I do find they are very North Down elitist at times, and they puts me off every truly supporting them.

    Oh – I was asking before about the former UCUNF guys, was it Harry you forgot? Just the Alliance guys who came to my door couldn’t name him either, which fed into my rant at them for not caring about anything outside the greater belfast and ND area!

  • Kevin Breslin

    Gerard Diver is based in Waterside, the most unionist area of Foyle, he’s been a councilor for a fairly long time, so I’d imagine the residents of the area are familiar with him. He has even stood for the Assembly before. These are three former councilors and Pat Ramsey and Mark Durkan MP are there to help.

    If anyone wants to suggest that transfers from across the spectrum are keeping the SDLP on life support on Foyle, that would suggest or infers that a second unionist seat would be more winnable in that area than a third Sinn Féin one, if they simply didn’t transfer across the spectrum.

  • Gopher

    No second unionist seat in Foyle but Alliance are going to poll @ 900, Greens @ 500 @, and unionists around 1500 over quota. Now with McCann likely to match not only his 2011 total but more so beat it those transfers come into play. Especially since McCann received so little last time out compared to the SDLP . Add to this mix indies and the likes of Cista I believe we have a cloudier transfer pattern this time which will decide whether McCann or the SDLP get that last seat. if Diver is known to Unionists perhaps Eastwood should start to worry.

  • chrisjones2

    Another Jim McAllister thorn in the side of the Great Dictators

  • chrisjones2

    Well every election they get very abusive about the Brits, Peelers, OO and Unionists in general so they must be Republican ….even if only some of the time

  • chrisjones2

    Yeah ….. better to have ‘pure’ Nationalism washed clean of any unionist influence in the blood of the slain … then they can proclaim that on murials, gravestones, etc

  • chrisjones2

    Ah so because the people arrested for the McAuley murder were from the Fountain there is some collective responsibility? What then do we do about the Bog-side and Creggan?

  • chrisjones2

    …or for the SDLP …or Alliance

  • chrisjones2

    … before the election they are always No 1 in something …its a form of self delusion …then afterwards they were robbed by the SDLP turncoats / Uncle Toms not transferring to them

  • chrisjones2

    …no its not ….look at their manifesto and policies ……

  • Johnny Magnum

    Go ahead then inform me of the last time something from the Creggan or Bogside has been lifted for killing a Protestant? The Fountain is a close knit, wall of silence. The low life filth that is Daryl Proctor won’t inform on his co murderers.

  • Johnny Magnum

    No just Republican principles will do fine.

  • Johnny Magnum

    Dream on… The very essence of the SDLP survives on begging on their knees for Unionist votes.

  • Johnny Magnum

    Apologies again for bursting your Orange bubble but since the GFA in 1998, loyalists in various guises have killed 16 Catholics and 3 Protestants mistaken for Catholics (one of which Gavin Brett, a brother of current DUP councillor Philip).

  • Paul91

    Have McCloskey and McCann condemed the recent murder in Belfast and others closer to home, including punishment beatings drug extorition by dissidents, have they been asked do they support the PSNI?
    If yes then why are the dissidents supporting them?

  • Paul91

    In that book you’ll find the British the RUC with loyalists murdered more innocent people than the IRA ever did.

  • Paul91

    Your very one sideed Mary in your use of victims to score points. Well done you.

  • Paul91

    Eamon works for the Belfast Telegraph a bigoted right wing paper. His only value there is to attack Sinn Fein.
    INM is the owner and Eamon gets paid with money taken of the taxapyer to pay for INM debt. Very decent of him.

  • Paul91

    I thought unionists were unhappy with the SDLP over the McCreesh palypark name. More fake outrage 🙂

  • Kevin Breslin

    Let me clarify, I used the term dissident republican in inverted commas to infer those who are self described Irish republican and dissent against the Good Friday Agreement framework, not simply those who specifically support the continuity of violence for political means.

    McCloskey has clarified her views on dissident paramilitarism and their violent activity as recently as today’s Derry Journal and McCann has consistently said the armed struggle was a pointless waste of life in his articles.

  • Paul91

    Jim will still not talk to Sinn Fein but will shake hands with double child murderer Billy Hutchinson.
    He never really has explained how he can achieve his main goal of shelving mandatory powersharing if he wont talk to the main nationalist party.

  • Paul91

    I’ll take your word for it but you didnt say they both support the PSNI. If they did I think those ‘peaceful anti GFA dissidents’ supporters could hardly support them.
    And just for the avoidance of doubt are both content to see the PSNI deliver those who use violent actions in their oppisition to the GFA for prosecution and jail?

  • Lionel Hutz

    I wouldn’t bother with him. He’s a troll simply. Making the same comment across dozens of threads. No doubt someone is paying him for it

  • Paul91

    Your majesty.

  • mary

    So are you judge & jury not here to score points. 90/% murders terrorists 10/% pc British government state facts. Those in power hiding behind British justice establishment PIRA PSF Army Council murdered NI Civil Rights no justice no accountability thousands more suffering from PTSD.

  • On the fence!

    Unfortunately few of us get to have any say in who actually stands for election leaving us with the choice of either making the best of what’s on offer or removing ourselves from the democratic process completely.

    If I was being picky i could say that voting for someone who has shaken hands with a murderer is hardly much of a deal over here considering the number of people who actually vote for murderers. But I suppose the people who are prepared to do that have their reasons too.

    Also worth remembering that I, along with the vast majority of the population of this country, voted to let murderers out of prison before they had paid their full debt to society, a move incidently opposed by Jim Alister! So set the moral bar too high and I fear very few of us would clear it.

  • Lee

    lol bigoted , just because they have a different political outlook from yourself. Quit the mope.

  • Steven Williamson

    One reason might be because the sdlp always stand there.
    Also, alliance is a unionist party, who are fully signed up to Belfast theft.