Alliance top poll in Coleraine…

It seems that the party everyone seems keenest to write off has topped the poll in The Skerries (roughly Portstewart and Portrush to you and me), and after significant transfers from both nationalist candidates and the UU’s, went on to win the seat by 266 votes.Hardly world shaking news, but considering Alliance have not topped the polls in a by-election in Holywood in the mid nineties, and they’ve not been seen much outside the greater Belfast since Anne Gormley’s last held a seat in Omagh in 1997, the party will no doubt take some heart that a viable cross community vote still exists.

One of candidate Barney Fitzpatrick’s key messages during the campaign highlighted the stasis brought about by the two main parties, aided, no doubt, by the controversial nature of the previous DUP councillor’s departure:

“Local people were disgusted by former DUP Councillor Dessie Stewart’s electoral fraud. The public are also annoyed that the Ulster Unionists forced a by-election for the middle of December, which will cost local taxpayers up to £15,000. This is a disgraceful waste of public money.

“Alliance is getting great feedback on the doorsteps in the Skerries area and we can see that people are sick of the sad political games of the sectarian parties.

“Over one billion pounds is currently wasted yearly on keeping Northern Ireland divided. Alliance will end segregation and will invest the cash saved into local hospitals, schools and policing.

Slugger regular and Alliance councillor Ian Parsley told Slugger, “For years there has been a ring of yellow around Belfast, now there is a little chink of light up in Coleraine”.

With Alisdair McDonnell implausibly taking a formerly solid unionist seat in South Belfast on a substantial cross community vote, it seems there is now some margin in play for parties with cross community appeal. Though it is often difficult to see how party spokesmen have significantly moderated their largely sectional appeal to take account of what can represent a crucial difference between winning and losing in some places.

This is certainly a fillip for the party ahead of the much tougher challenge of an Assembly election (the date for which must remain uncertain until there is some kind of definitive deal on policing). Slugger understands the party will unveil what they believe is a high calibre candidate in McDonnell’s constituency tomorrow.

However, whether parties like the Alliance, or indeed the emergent Greens and Conservatives, can capitalise on their position in these highly scattered cross community areas in the long term remains, as ever, an open question.

Adds (sorry for the messy table):

Full Results

Stage 1 % -/+ Stage 2 Stage 3
Barr UUP 625 25.3 +10 635 -635 0
Fielding DUP 678 27.5 +8 686 +316 1001
Fitzpatrick All 694 28.1 +362 1056 +212 1268
Leonard SF 253 10.2 -253 0 0
Rae SDLP 219 8.88 -219 0 0

Non-Trans 92 +107 199

  • kadenza

    Any figures available?

  • dpef

    Though an independent, Christine Alexander topped the poll in the election proper and consistently brings in a vote in excess of the APNI. Her vote may have gone to the APNI as she couldn’t run again. So it could be a case of as you were for the Alliance in Coleraine based on this result.

  • realist2

    good news.

  • Mick Fealty

    Final totals:

    Alliance: 1268
    DUP: 1002

  • dpef

    Did SF and the SDLP get knocked out at the same stage? This along with the absence of the Independent poll topper would indicate there may have been very little change in voting patterns indicated in this election beyond the DUP being punished.

  • kadenza

    Mick, can you post the full first preferce figures if you have them. I have checked webwide and get find any.


  • Mick Fealty

    I think so, but I don’t have the full detail. Then it was UU’s, and finally a stand off between DUP and Alliance.

  • I think it’s highly unwise to make too much of this. Council by-elections in non-polarised places often turn on very local issues. The DUP looks like it was punished for its councillor’s fraud. I don’t think there are too many wider ripples but I guess we can’t begrudge Alliance a little good news for once.

    As for a strong Alliance figure in South Belfast, well, they could do with one. The DUP won’t be too unhappy either as such a person would eat into Alasdair McDonnell’s narrow Westminster majority in 2009/10.

  • fair_deal

    Has anyone got the 1st preference votes for all the candidates?

    As for the Skerries result Alliance held a seat in that electoral area up until 2001 so it is not as big a sea change some may wish to spin it.


    “With Alisdair McDonnell implausibly taking a formerly solid unionist seat in South Belfast on a substantial cross community vote”

    However much the SDLP would wish that to be true that claim is complete and utter nonsense.

    At the 2001 Westmister election McDonnell got 31% of the vote. In 2005 he got 32% of the vote. It was the split in the Unionist vote (that actually increased by 3%) that got him the seat not a substantial cross-community vote.

  • Fair Deal,

    Is Jimmy Spratt being lined up for South Belfast again?

  • kadenza

    Watchman, I am not sure, in the abscene of a turnout figure whether the DUP have been “punished”. There vote has reduced from 1,300 in 2005 to 1,000 today but given that the BE was largely irrelevant and stand alone I imagine the t/o was much lower.

    Given that in 2005 the UUP were only a couple of points behind the DUP as largest party, the story here is the inability of the UUP to claw back a council seat after a spectacular own goal by their rivals

  • CS Parnell

    I still think Alliance will be crushed in any March election – the SDLP will surely run a “single party government? No thanks” style campaign and so maximise their vote. To be blunt about it, Alliance does well where it gets the Castle Catholic/Nationalist small minority vote, but the SDLP can put the case that it can give these people a real say and keep the Shinners in check.

    Think East Antrim, Lagan Valley, Strangford, South Antrim – a lot of Catholic Alliance votes to be squeezed there.

  • fair_deal

    The Watchman

    AFAIK yes. Although in my opinion they should look for a new candidate especially if he runs in March and gets an assembly seat.

  • Nevin

    “With Alisdair McDonnell implausibly taking a formerly solid unionist seat in South Belfast on a substantial cross community vote,”

    How so? He won on a split Unionist vote. South Belfast was nominally 41% Catholic in 2001 and McDonnell took 32% of the vote.

  • J Kelly

    has anyone got the full 1st preference result from skerries yet

  • Mick Fealty

    Alliance have it, but no reply from head office as yet… I’m on my way to London now, so I’m signing out for the rest of the day… cheers all…

    Before I get buried under a virtual ruck, I’ll take a correct on my description ‘significant’…

  • darth rumsfeld

    Remember the DUP were prepared to coopt Fitzpatrick, but the UUP wanted to kick them for the Stewart fiasco, so called for the by-election. Looks like the UUP lost more form their cunning plan than the DUP.That apart, it’s no big deal. There is a strong Alliance vote from the wrinklies and university profs in Skerries which has returned councillors in the past.And Barney is a nice bloke.

  • Darth,

    Ah yes, the UUP “strategists” strike again …

  • jeep55

    In the absence of full details here are the 2005 figures:

    Votes by Party:
    DUP: 1,322 (28.1%), 2 seats
    UUP: 1,147 (24.4%), 1 seat
    Alliance: 455 (9.7%)
    SDLP 418 (8.9%), 1 seat
    SF: 352 (7.5%)
    Ind: 1,008 (21.4%), 1 seat

    Only independents were unrepresented this time round. For Alliance to top the poll they had to swallow up virtually every independent vote last time. Unlikely! Even dual Alliance runners (last seen here in 1997) only cross-transfer about 80%! SDLP will have transfered well to Alliance and SF aren’t worth a damn here! Clearly UU’s have been damaged for punishing ratepayers with the poll and DUP ‘fraudsters’ have been punished for causing it in the first place. Well done Barney and congrats to Alliance for getting back on to Coleraine Council the hard way – and probably for the last time before the shake-up of local councils.

  • DN

    The full results have now been posted on the Coleraine Council website

  • jeep55

    Figures 1st count:

    APNI 694 (28.1%) +362 1056 + 212 1268
    DUP 678 (27.5%) + 8 686 + 316 1002
    UUP 625 (25.3%) +10 635
    SDLP 253 (10.2%)
    SF 219 ( 8.9%)

    2. Both SF + SDLP eliminated
    3. UU eliminated

    All parties increased share of vote since 2005 except DUP (evidence of being punished) but APNI share nearly tripled!

  • Skerrie

    Alliance Party 694

    DUP 678

    Ulster Unionist Party 625

    Sinn Féin 253

    SDLP 219

    Good result for Sinn Féin who overtake the SDLP for the first time here.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    I live in the Bann Ward (Castlerock/Articlave/Macosquin/Garvagh/Kilrea) so didn’t get to vote. Our ward is very entrenched – Articlave, Macosquin and Garvagh are staunchly loyalist areas and although these days Castlerock is a ghost town for 10 months of the year, I would describe it as a Protestant-Unionist holiday village that doubles in size during the summer with holidaymakers from Protestant parts of Greater Belfast and Londonderry mainly.
    On the other hand we have the republican village of Kilrea which is quite simply the sectarian and racist capital of East Londonderry. The local war memorial has been attacked on numerous occasions and pro-IRA graffiti is scrawled everywhere. Migrant workers from Poland in particular have also felt the brunt of the fascist Irish republican “Aryan” race when their homes were attacked and the message “Poles Out” was daubed on nearby walls to intimidate them.
    So you get the picture – our ward is loyalist to the East and West and republican to the South when you get near the boundary with the Mid-Ulster electoral constituency.
    The Skerries ward is less entrenched however and this is why Alliance have gained the council position. The ward covers the seaside resort of Portstewart and the area around Royal Portrush Golf Course, with the majority of Portrush, a predominantly Protestant town and quite loyalist in places, with the DUP the party the residents would mostly vote for, coming under the jurisdiction of the North Antrim constituency.

    Portstewart is a mixed town with the only sectarian trouble coming outside the nightclubs near the Diamond, and even this is the exception rather than the rule and usually comes from “culchie” students fighting with local loyalists from the Greater Coleraine area and Portrush and not between the 2 local Portstewart communities. Although SF/IRA’s Billy “Lundy” Leonard has tried to stir up sectarian tensions on a number of occasions in Portstewart, on the whole he hasn’t succeeded and both communities are well integrated and there is no trouble on a day-to-day basis.

    Dessie Stewart let down his constituents, his party and most of all, his cause – the maintaining of the Union. I’m disappointed the unionist people of Skerries have allowed a wishy-washy party of liberals and do-gooders that produce nothing on the ground to gain a council seat in their area, but I have to say I’m not surprised they have turned against the DUP after Dessie Stewart’s aping of SF/IRA election tactics…

  • Stat

    Alliance – 28% (+18%)

    DUP – 27% (-1%)

    UUP – 25% (+1%)

    SF – 10% (+2.5%)

    SDLP – 8.8% (-0.1%)

    Looks like the Independent vote went mostly to Alliance which gave them the seat.

  • Well spotted

    jeep55, I see you’ve switched the SDLP figures woth the SF ones!! The SDLP finished botom of the pile not SF!

  • darth rumsfeld

    marginal decrease to DUP 0.6%- not even a smack on the wrists
    marginal increase to UUP-0.9%-costing ratepayers £15000 approx
    Alexander’s post-party-politics population plump for portly past-peeler and punish Paisley protege.

    if repeated over NI would probably result in no change in assembly seats between the parties. So time for normal folk to go back to sleep and for Reg to think up some other cunning plan to target the DUP.

  • Oakleaf

    CL get a grip the dup and the sdlp have been famous for years of getting the postal votes from old peoples homes by whatever means necessary the only difference this time he was caught.

  • dman

    Concerned Loyalist, I’ll have you know that the SDLP and the DUP are the only parties to be convicted of electoral fraud!! SF ‘election tactics’ in recent times have consisted of increasing our vote and winning more seats and that seems set to continue

  • jeep55

    Apologies – reading what I expected rather than what was there! Anyway if SF have overtaken SDLP this actually puts the SDLP seat in jeopardy in favour of Alliance – because if SDLP are eliminated then probably > 50% of their vote would transfer to Alliance in this particular ward. Lat time SDLP won on back of SF transfers. The same does not hold in reverse. SF would not have enough votes to win a seat and Alliance would go on to take it. However this may never be put to the test.

  • J Kelly

    the more interesting thing about this result from a nationalist/republican perspective is that sinn fein are now beating the sdlp in places that were never imaginable it has to be worrying for the kabal at sdlp hq. i know its only a by election but its part of a developing trend and by the way long may it last

  • Plum Duff

    Dry your eyes, Concerned Loyalist. What you’ve just witnessed is obviously a concept you haven’t quite grasped. It’s called Democracy. You should study its theory and practice sometime.

    And, silly me, I thought I’d heard everything. At the end of one long whinge you turn round and blame SF for Dessie “The Slugger”(!) Stewart’s demise! Get a life and open the other eye. All your demons seem to be viewed via a green tinted monocle.

    Let me hear it again – what party did Mr Stewart belong to? To date, he is the only person to be jailed for electoral fraud and his votes were going to – what party? Speak up, CL, I can’t hear you.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    “What you’ve just witnessed is obviously a concept you haven’t quite grasped. It’s called Democracy.”

    Posted by Plum Duff on Dec 14, 2006 @ 04:03 PM

    So when are the by-elections for Michael Feguson’s council and Stormont seats? After all, a dead man’s vote was the reason there was a tied vote which stopped the passing of the DUP motion condemning proposals for new gay and lesbian anti-discrimination laws that would discriminate against Christian businesses…hardly democracy in action now is it Mister Duff?

  • Ellesmere Dragge

    When the figures are crunched, stat and Darth Rumsfeld got it spot on. This is a non-event.

    All that happened is that the 21.4% for Christine Alexander as an Independent were going begging, and found a home (for want of anywhere better) with APNI’s Bernard Fitzpatrick.

    Quiteb frankly, if nearly 30% of the petite-bourgeousie of Skerries Ward are still being DUPed this way, heaven help us.

  • kadenza

    Ellesmere, on the contrary the figures suggest that amgonst the big four is that the DUP and SF will pull further away from the UUP and SDLP.

    This is despite cries sell out being hurled by vocal committed minorties within the respective fan bases.

    AFAICS the big loser here is the UUP.

  • As has, more or less, been pointed out, this ward is pretty much honkey central for the north west. And still the Paisleyites are coasting along. That despite their last candidate being a cretin who, eventually, got what was coming to him.

    Sometimes when I speak to members of the middle classes, lawyers, doctors, quango PR men – that sort of fellow – I’m told, ‘now Rove, what you’ve got to understand is that people are fed up with Paisley. He’s riding for a fall come those elections next year’. I, meanwhile, am seeking any bookie offering halfway decent odds against the UUP being the 4th (the 4th!) party in Stormont after those elections. This little by-election snap shot surely confirms just how good things are going for the Demon Doc. Or to put that another way: where will the DUP lose seats? In which seats where it has more than 1 MLA will the UUP stay that way? East Londonderry and South Belfast clearly being prime candidates for the DUP to scoop the pool.

  • Porlock


    Surely it is time for Danny Kennedy to take control of the UUP helm and steer it to the final frontier of electoral oblivion? I’m sure he can carry on the sterling work begun and continued by Trimble and Empey. Like them, he may even send you a little note of thanks for your support.

    For me, however, the party is over. I won’t be voting for the UUP again and I certainly won’t be voting for the DUP, either.


  • Plum Duff

    Concerned Loyalist, apart from not answering the questions I put to you, you, again quite obviously, don’t know what you’re talking about. The legislation you speak of does not discriminate *against* anyone. It is, as you said yourself, a ‘gay and lesbian **anti-discrimination** law’. It was also voted into law in the Westminster Parliament, where, I would deduce from your nom de plume, your ‘loyalties’ are supposed to lie. But then again, Loyalism was always very flakey exactly how far its loyalties could be stretched when it didn’t suit its particular take on the world.

    In relation to the Assembly elections and what passes for ‘democracy’ there, I suggest you take those points up with Mr Tan-fastic himself, the only true ‘orange’ man and bulldozer of democratic rights and accountability, ‘Two Jobs’ Hain.

  • Prowler

    Rumour has it that the Alliance guy got a massive personal vote in that area.

    By-elections are not to be trusted as an indicator of how an election will go – remember before the 2005 election, Andy Wilson of the UUP won a by election in Larne which caused many of the UU bloggers to herald a new dawn for the UUP, well, we all know the rest of the story.

  • Boa

    ‘Two Jobs’ Hain

    Haha, he has ways to go before he catches up with 3 jobs Robinson (both of them) and formerly 4 jobs Paisley. The sooner dual mandates are forbidden, the better.

  • Ellesmere Dragge

    Ah, Mr Rove, you almost agreed with me: my cri-de-coeur was very much that the weirdies and beardies seem to have a lock on the Disgusted on Dundribbling vote.

    Having been an on-looker of this state-of-chassis for nearly half-a-century, it still amazes me how even loopier and loonier fruit-and-nut cases serially emerge from the segregationist fringes to get elected, and then to lead the unchosen people deeper into the mire of [supply pseudo-Greek root]-phobia. As an e-acquaintance of mine []
    has just pointed out, politics in the North seems to owe more to those below the Mason-Dixon line than to real life.

  • Valerie Leonard

    Concerned Loyalist
    Your area, Articlave, Macosquin and Garvagh has also got nationalist and republican support and even despite the loyalist attacks on this population throughout the Coleraine Borough.
    Kilrea is not quite simply the sectarian and racist capital of East Derry. The area has minimal graffiti compared to other towns and the last graffiti to be cleaned off by our SF activists came from loyalists. Republicans were not responsible for the last attack on our Polish community and SF have been working with them to help.
    So your picture is well out of date and misleading –
    The Skerries ward has also a sizable nationalist and republican population. The main trouble is antisocial behaviour from a small minority. Billy Leonard has never tried to stir up anything but will highlight problems as they arise and will not be intimidated by namecalling and lies.
    This was only our second election in the Skerries area, the first one split the SDLP vote and the second one now has brought us to 54% of the combined Nationalist/Republican vote.
    Dessie Stewart did not ape our election strategy.
    We are not the ones doing time.
    Nollaig Shona duit!
    Valerie Leonard

  • bertie


    I was suprised that the UUP wasn’t hung out to dry considering the Ervine pact. Has that really been forgotten?

  • Chris Donnelly

    A good election result for Alliance and for Sinn Fein.

    That Sinn Fein are now pulling ahead of the SDLP even in this region of Coleraine is an indication of the likely result in the forthcoming Assembly election.

    The failure of many UUP voters to transfer to the DUP will be worrying for the latter, who could have held the seat with a more uniform transfer rate from the ulster unionist electorate.

    Alliance owe this seat to nationalist transfers, a pattern that will be repeated for the party in Assembly constituencies like North Down and East Belfast. However, I would dispute the theory put forward that Sinn Fein would be unlikely to garner sufficient transfers in Skerries to take a council seat from the SDLP. Transfer rates from the SDLP to Sinn Fein have continued to rise steadily in the post-ceasefire era, and nationalists have always responded intelligently to the argument that they must vote tactically tosecure representation- hence the initial mid-Ulster vote for McGuinness, Gildernew’s 2001 victory in Ferm S Tyrone and, more recently, McDonnell’s victory in South Belfast.

    Sinn Fein in Coleraine will be delighted with this performance, which will further strengthen their hand with the electorate in the future.

    Well done to Valerie and the team up there!

  • Danny Kennedy, the late Lord Robert Grosvenor, Billy the binman – I don’t really care who finishes the job, as long as they do it painfully. And Bertie, it amazes me too re the PUP, but when you speak to non-political people, it’s astonishing how many of them seem to have forgotten that it ever happened. This may be Reg’s secret weapon: he’s so boring that everything he touches turns invisible. Meanwhile, I suspect that the DUP will not lose much sleep over the lack of enthusiasm for them by unionist voters in this soggiest of seats. To repeat what people like me, Darth and the Watchman said during the long purple night: for the DUP to wax, and the UUP to wane, the UU voters we had to worry about holding weren’t the sodding liberals!

    The verification word for this post is “dead 12”, and I’m very tempted to take any odds I can get on the UUP having 12 MLAs after the election.

  • bertie


    “And Bertie, it amazes me too re the PUP, but when you speak to non-political people, it’s astonishing how many of them seem to have forgotten that it ever happened. ”

    Bucket of sand time methinks!

  • north coast visitor

    There probably wasn’t much change in first preferences for ‘the big four’ parties, though SF and SDLP did swap places. But if Alliance did win all the Independent supporters, as some suggest, that was a big boost for them. The figures for last year seem to have left the Council website, but only about a third of Christine Alexander’s votes transfered to Fitzpatrick last year. That would give him about 16%, but he got 28%. I doubt if there was a big extra ‘personal’ vote, because he was the candidate last year too. So it was either positive for Alliance, people who thought he was robbed by Stewart, or a mix of the two.

    It must have been coming, because a friend heard Unionists at the polling station yesterday saying that it looked like Alliance.

    The really interesting thing is the transfers. 362 out of 472 Nationalists (over half from Sinn Fein) transfering to Alliance is better than some internal party transfers at over 75%. Less than half of UUP votes (316 out of 635) went to the DUP and over 200 went Alliance. Not much love between the Orange brethren there.

    Alliance seems to have won the race for transfers as well as the first preferences. I know byelections are funny, but that’s more than a flash in the pan.

  • slug

    Let us not overanalyze a council by-election.

  • bertie


    You have no mission! If there was an cyber equivalent of your man snow and his swingometer e would be doing it. Is it a more or less pointless exercise? Of course, but that isn’t going to stop us. 😉

  • IJP

    People will read the result any way they want to.

    But NCV has a point. Alliance scoring over 28% of the vote in a one-off election anywhere under any circumstances is a reasonable outcome to say the least, and doing so outside Greater Belfast is hardly insignificant.

    The analyst in me would have to agree with Chris Donnelly, tho’ of course one should not over-do a one-off election.

    Whatever way you look at it, one thing is clear: this is yet another tactical and electoral catastrophe for the Ulster Unionists.

  • IJP


    If there was an cyber equivalent of your man snow and his swingometer

    “If this result were replicated across Northern Ireland…”, believe me, it’d be a better place… and then, sadly, I would wake up… 🙂

    But one can dream… 🙂

  • Glen Taisie

    The Combined Alliance/SDLP/SF vote in 2005 was 1225 in the 2006 by-election despite a lower turnout The Combined Alliance/SDLP/SF vote was 1167.

    In skerries the three parties are clearly fishing from the same pond.

  • Porlock


    On the Wildean principle that you should resist everything except temptation, I am willing to put up £1000, at odds of your choosing, that the UUP will have more than 12 MLAs after the next election (re your earlier post). I may no longer be willing to vote for them, but I’m quite happy to make money from them!


  • bertie

    “Whatever way you look at it, one thing is clear: this is yet another tactical and electoral catastrophe for the Ulster Unionists”


    Every vote for parties apart from SF/IRA and UUP/UVF I am prepared to celebrate to some degree. [Forgetting for a moment UDP]

  • Stewart

    Comparison of 2005 with 2006

    DUP: 1,322 (28.1%), 678 (27.5%)
    UUP: 1,147 (24.4%), 625 (25.3%)
    Alliance: 455 (9.7%), 694 (28.1%)
    SDLP 418 (8.9%), 219 ( 8.9%)
    SF: 352 (7.5%), 253 (10.2%)
    Ind: 1,008 (21.4%), [no contest]

    Given that the Independent votes transfered all over the place last year, everyone should have expected some benefits this year.

    I read that as:
    DUP growth has been blunted – probably by Stewart factors. They will be relieved.
    UUP cunning plan to win back a few votes and overtake DUP on Alliance and SDLP transfers was about as cunning as signing up with Ervine.
    Alliance has clearly had a good outing, more than they might have expected, with a substantial margin of victory.
    SDLP might have been squeezed more if middle class Catholics thought they already had a seat, but must be worried by 5th place.
    SF had ‘second best’ result, but must be doubtful if adequate transfers would be available in a future contest to lift from 10 to 17%.

  • Seriously interesting.

  • Crataegus

    What I find interesting is how the Independent vote seems to have stayed together and moved in block to Alliance. Could this be an indication that there is a sizable body of the electorate that find all four main parties repugnant?

    It may be just the people I am in contact with, but I get the feeling that their opinion of the leading politicians and parties is taking a sharp dive. That may result in a low turnout or if they decide to go out and vent their annoyance could lead to some very unusual results.

    Politics in NI seems to be aging and the young Turks of decades past are fast becoming the old ditherers of today.

    I am not so sure that either SF or the DUP will make significant gains and fully expect a result very similar to what we have today. However a significant proportion of the electorate are well brassed off with the negativity and lack of progress and may someday decide to punish. The problem is that there really is no obvious and credible home for such a vote. Alliance need to up their game and get their vote out for they are in danger of losing 3 of their seats.

  • I am very much in agreement with Stewart’s analysis, except that I would give SF a slightly better chance than he does of winning a seat next time. Having said which, of course there won’t actually be a next time, either on these boundaries or for this council.

    Crataegus puts his finger on it. The key to this election, perhaps, was precisely the votes of the people who “are well brassed off with the negativity and lack of progress”. In the past, Alliance has had great difficulty in getting such people to vote for the party (or indeed to vote at all). Here they succeeded, helped by a bit of a tailwind due to the very direct effect of the DUP man’s criminal activities on the Alliance candidate two years ago.

    Is it repeatable? I hope so, but we’ll find out in March.

  • Continental Drifter

    This is actually a staggering result for the Alliance Party. There was no evidence from elections at other levels that Alliance would score that highly.

    Don’t know how much the sense of “injustice” made SDLP folk vote Alliance, so hard to tell about what the Nationalist vote means.

    But another blunder by the Ulster Unionists, a party totally without a cause.

  • noel adams

    Clearly some local factors at play given the reasons for the by election but it does show a warning for DUP SF if voters stick to the middle ground for transfers. ie only half uup transfers went to DUP What effect would this have in the assembly for 6th, 5th, possibly 4th transfers.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “Surely it is time for Danny Kennedy to take control of the UUP helm and steer it to the final frontier of electoral oblivion?”

    Porlock- that is just the sort of blinkered approach that I find so depressing.It’s obvious that the only candidate for the signal honour of running the good ship UUP on to the rocks while claiming a great victory is Mid Ulster’s finest, a devoted family man to boot-step forward Billy “Mr Potato Head” Armstrong.

  • darth rumsfeld

    BTW IJP I’ve always wanted to know what the factions are in Alliance- after all, every real political party has got cliques and camps. Is it the Chelsea tractors versus the skiing set- or wine and cheese versus chickpeas and sandals?Just who is the strong traditionalist wo/man in Alliance and who the moderniser/revisionist? Or is it the Campbellians versus the Inst posse?

  • Maitiú Ó Garmaile

    Sinn Féin set to take 2 seats at the next local election

    Premature thought but the Leonards seem to be popular. Billy Leonard is one of the most hardworking councillors at Coleraine BC.

    If people went to council meetings they would see how little Dessie Stewart’s former party colleagues do.

  • IJP


    It’s Manchester United supporters versus the rest.

    I’m working on my own wee Arsenal clique but it’s not a major force yet.

  • Stewart


    Not sure why you concentrate on the reduction in SDLP vote, since it was also almost no change for UUP and DUP and only modest growth for SF. Alliance campaign was aimed against the unionists, with their canvass leaflet headed ‘Theft’, so the SDLP were probably most vulnerable to transferring to the victim of theft.

    It would be interesting to know whether the independent voters did transfer en masse to Alliance, or whether they stayed at home and Alliance gained from other parties.

    I agree entirely with you about the UUP. They caused the by-election, expected to win, and got a poor third place in an area where they were in first place until last year. TThey have now been overtaken by Alliance and by DUP (assuming this vote was fair). Real egg on face..

  • Rory

    Alliance taking power in Coleraine! Christ!

    If this is the Chinese in their new found global confidence beginning their first probings of revenge for the British grab of Hong Kong they might have chosen a more desirable town. If I were them I would sack Alliance as NI advisors and appoint me. Ballymena is wide open for a market in foot massage parlours and could definitely benefit from a feng shui makeover.