Back in January, Chris wrote, “the McGuinness to Foyle gamble has added much-needed spice to the electoral contest within nationalism”. So how did that go?
The answer is: not that well. He topped the poll, but only 37 votes ahead of Colm Eastwood, and he needed the transfers of sitting MLA he effectively ejected for the privilege of ‘coming home’. Or ‘the vanity project’ as Mark Carruthers described it.
In fact, both main nationalist parties suffered a near 10% loss here on a rising turnout. Colm Eastwood’s cheeky ‘3 into 2 won’t go’ from his leader’s speech came back to bite him in the form of the loss of Gerard Diver.
In his own town, it might be observed that the deputy First Minister is no big voter getter. Or if he is, then how much worse would it have been had he not run? Eamonn McCann has tapped a weakness here that was not that obvious to outside observers before.
But it was clearly real enough to bring the big yin back from Mid Ulster and sacrifice a capable and well-regarded female MLA.