The power of numbers 6: Battleground West of the Bann

If it is still worth thinking about it, here is the last in the series of constituency profiles. The five constituencies West of the Bann – Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Mid-Ulster, West Tyrone, Foyle and East Londonderry seem to be pretty straightforward. The numbers say that the questions are what will Deeny do in West Tyrone and will the DUP take a third in East Londonderry?In Foyle, Mid-Ulster and Fermanagh and South Tyrone the Westminster and Local Government results predict no change in the present seat distributions.

In West Tyrone the three questions are will Deeny run, will his vote hold and if it does at whose expense will his seat be? The last time it was at SF’s the SDLP’s expense and prevented SF from taking a 3rd seat. The Westminster result gives SF 3 full quotas, Deeney almost 2 full quotas with both the SDLP and UUP under quota so they should be nervous. Local Government results show the UUP more vulnerable that the SDLP. In East Londonderry Westminster has the DUP taking one off the UUP but Local Government has the UUP holding on. For what it is worth, the Portrush by-election shows no real shifts between the two Unionist parties.

Over the week-end I will hit the figures again, applying the last public opinion poll available, the Hearts and Minds poll, both in total party support and also try and offer answers on what will happen if unhappy SF and DUP voters sit at home or vote for anti-St Andrew candidates.

IMPORTANT NOTES: Seats were assigned to parties strictly on the basis of who was closest to a quota. No assignment was made on the basis of possible/likely transfers nor has any projection of existing trends been extrapolated (ie DUP vote grew X% between 2003 and 2005 but if that continues their likely vote be). Westminster results tend to show a party’s maximum potential vote in a constituency while Local Government shows the core vote. When the two agree it seems the highly likely result and were they disagree it highlights were a party should target a constituency for extra effort. In individual constituencies the perceived geographcal base and number of candidates a party chooses and the vote management system adopted can have an effect on the final result. Examples of how this can impact are – the choice of two Ballymena UUP candidates in North contributed to their loss of a seat, vote mismanagement in West and East Belfast cost SF and the DUP a seat respectively. It is possible to confound both indicators as David Ford did in South Antrim in 2003.

  • Question Mark

    Fair Deal

    In West Tyrone the three questions are will Deeny run, will his vote hold and if it does at whose expense will his seat be? The last time it was at SF’s expense

    I thought Joe Byrne sdlp lost his seat
    from Nicholas Whyte site

    “Of Deeny’s 6158 votes, 2440 transferred to Byrne and 469 to McMenamin, thus 2909 (47.2%) to the SDLP; ”

    as these are direct number 2s do your sums

  • fair_deal

    D’oh forgot about Byrne, been staring at numbers too much. Apologies and cheers for the heads up.

  • slug

    When was the Hearts and Minds poll?

  • fair_deal


    A couple of weeks after St andrews

  • deeny fan

    West Tyrone

    fact 1: Dr Kieran Deeny won a seat in 2003, topping the poll

    fact 2: Joe Byrne (SDLP) lost a seat

    fact 3: if you look at where Dr Deeny’s transfers went, more went to SDLP than elsewhere

    fact 4: but if you run the election without Dr Deeny, ie allocating his votes to the number 2 at full value, Sinn Fein would have gained the seat from SDLP

    fact 5: Dr Deeny’s vote went up for Westminster, despite DUP, SDLP and UUP refusing to withdraw. If any of them had done, he could have defeated Doherty

  • Chris Donnelly

    There’s no doubt Deeny came in on the crest of a wave, but like most single issue candidates, familiarity begins to breed contempt once the issue begins to fade from view and the candidate has a period of time in which to make his own political preferences clear to the electorate.

    I believe Deeny may struggle to hold onto his seat in West Tyrone, which will be good news for the SDLP, whose solitary seat is under real threat from Sinn Fein.

    It isn’t an area I’m all too familiar with at ground level, but I wouldn’t be surprised- from the figures- if it returns 3 Sinn Fein, one each to the UUP and DUP, and either Deeny or a solitary SDLP candidate.

    Foyle will be interesting, not because I’m expecting any change in the seats returned by each party, but because it will reveal if Durkan’s honeymoon period as MP is over if the vote share of Sinn Fein continues to rise steadily towards that of the SDLP in the latter’s bastion.

    As FD has pointed out, East Derry will be unionism’s key battle in this region, and once again it will be interesting to see if the DUP can consolidate their position at the expense of the UUP.

    Within nationalism, the two parties have been running neck and neck in this constituency for since 2003, and it will be interesting to see, as the Coleraine by election perhaps indicated, if Sinn Fein is beginning to pull away from the SDLP in this area. This will be important as the proposed new boundaries (albeit ‘shelved’ at present) will incorporate a number of predominantly nationalist wards from Foyle which could bring a third nationalist seat to a new East Derry constituency.

    As for FST and Mid-Ulster, I don’t expect to see any changes.

  • Valenciano

    Chris, I think that’s a fair call re:Deeny. These single issue candidates attract a catch all vote but thereafter have to take positions on other issues at which point they end up alienating somebody.

    It’s interesting to note the parallel of Richard Taylor who became Kidderminster MP in 2001 after an identical ‘Save the local hospital’ campaign. In 2005 he lost about a third of his votes dropping from 58.1% to 39.9% although he did retain his seat.

    I suspect that Deeny will suffer the same fate and West Tyrone end up 3 SF, 1UUP, 1DUP and a scrap between the SDLP and Deeny for the last seat.

    I disagree with your point though on East Derry. The two wards being transferred are about 35-40% protestant AFAIK so the effect will be minimal and a third Nationalist seat is way off.

  • DMCM

    The 6 seats for West Tyrone will remain the same. Deeneys vote will drop a little this time. The SDLP will have to run a newcomer to the Assembly in the Omagh area. It is difficult to see how the Sinn Fein vote will be affected by the policing decision because West Tyrone has a strong Republican reputation and many of them will hate this decision. If any changes happen it may be that the SDLP regain their 2nd seat. It really depends on how Deeney performs.

  • borden

    Regrding Foyle, it is likely to produce the same seat allocation as 2003 but albeit the SDLp will have more votes to play with methinks. PSF have not chosen wisely and though have two quotas the SDLp will trump them. Mind you , the stoops have yet to choose their candiates but I would look out for Gerry Diver a rising star in the Waterside. He has run Gregory Campbell close in two council elections and though his defeat in 2003 was more likely due to a bad carve up he will nullify the threat of PSFs Waterside candidate Flemming and will take the fifth or sixth seat.
    BTW, Banagher and Claudy wards which were transferred are heavily SDLP territiory and will help a Thomas Conway to become a second MLA in East Derry as there are currently 2500-3000 votes there to have.

  • West Tyrone

    Deeny is a busted flush now – whether we like it or not, the hospital campaign is on the downward slope. There are no big events happening any more, and even the campain meetings happen only monthy instead of fortnightly, or even weekly when the campaign was at its height.

    If he runs he will get a couple of thousand now, but nowhere near as well as he did in 2003 – it was partly because no-one expected him to do well that he did so well – none of the main parties paid him much attention.

    The DUP will be close to taking a second seat, but are unlikely to do so. The UUP will probably only run Hussey (sitting MLA) as he will resist any attempts to put a second candidate alongside him (particularly the candidate who ran alongside him last time as the two hate each other). It would probably be another 4 years before a second DUP seat could be a real possibility here.

    The big challenge is who takes Deeney’s seat (assuming that he may well not be returned). SF were robbed by Deeney last time and so start as hot favourites. However, word has it that the SDLP will be running Omagh Councilor Jospephine Deehan alongside Eugine McMenamin (their selection meeting is Sunday evening AFAIK). She certainly wouldn’t be a bad candidate as she’s quite personable, being a female can always attract in a few votes, and if there is still that residual ‘hospital factor’ around then she can attract a few people through her profession as a local GP.

    Also, like it or not, there will be a few people who will confuse Deeney and Deehan… always worth a few votes for her.

    Overall though West Tyrone will probably simply be a switch of Deeney’s seat to the SF, but I certainly wouldnt rule out the SDLP being in contention, particularly if rumblings amongst republicans on policing grow any louder. There have been a few discontented voices in housing estates in Omagh and Strabane. If that gets any worse then they could be hit by people staying at home rather than going out to vote for anyone else.

  • borden

    Cllrs Deehan and Diver could be two surprise MLAs if there is an election in March. Watch this space.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Yes, ‘Borden’, we’ll be watching…..

  • Sammy Morse

    It’s virtually impossible to call West Tyrone given Deeny’s position as a first term independent. Although I agree with all that Chris Donelly and Valenciano have said about the tendency of single-issue independents it’s worth noting this is a general tendency not an absolute rule. Some Independents have been able to broaden their base and become long-term fixtures – H’Angus the Monkey in Hartlepool comes to mind not to mention a few Independent TDs who’ve been successfully spinning from single issue to single issue for over a decade – unemployment/hospitals/TV deflectors/you name it.

    If he loses, SF are pretty much guaranteed to win his seat. Even if he wins, the SDLP might be in such deep shit that the Shinners pick up three although I personally don’t think this will be another ‘wave’ election for SF.

    As for the rest of the west, it’s all as boring as everyone says, although the third seat seems very possible for the DUP in East Derry on Westminster votes, local government votes have them a ways off even with the Albert Douglas’ votes in Limavady added. A serious prospect of a gain for them but certainly no banker.

    PS – just a note of thanks to Fair Deal for putting these profiles together.

  • fair_deal



  • borden


    what u-turns exactly will Provisional Sinn Fein be promising their supporters this time?? And from what I hear from friends in foyle, McCann will be sweeping up alot of dissident votes and could hurt one of the PSF seats. Looking forward to seeing how this one develops.

  • darth rumsfeld

    East Londonderry has a salivating choice of Unionist grandees to pick from…
    DUP Gregory is guarenteed, and the two from three for the selection meeting to pick are George Robinson Limavady MLA, Cllr Adrian McQuilan of Garvagh, and ex-UUP, ex-independent Unionist,ex-UKUP Pauline Armitage.

    For the UUP it’s McClarty, Hillis, and whoever wants a suicide pill from their Limavady Division.Initial talk of fielding four, to allow Young Unionist Peter Munce a blooding( should’t that be “a bloody nose”?-ed) was overruled when the sanity pills kicked in

    So that’s Campbell, McClarty and Robinson guaranteed with Hillis fighting one of his current or ex council colleagues for the last Unionist seat.Bob’s likely flag carrier may sway how that contest pans out.

    It’s surprising how neither party has any new blood coming through, given the relatively dull list of candidates
    Swiss Francie and John “where’s the microphone?” Dellett will get the two green seats.

  • borden


    do you think that the UUP or whats left of them will run anyone in Foyle??

  • darth rumsfeld

    they have too- to maximise their provincewide vorw, and they’ll be helped by the HQ promise to underwrite costs of losing candidates. The candidate? Probably Jack Allen again, since noone else can be bothered

  • borden

    J Kelly,

    As a glensman with good friends in Derry, it would appear that you are a member of PSF and have good contacts in the stoops in the city. How come?? You do seem to know a lot of gossip and have been stirring it usually about election time.
    I personally think that Provisional Sinn fein have given up the ghost in Foyle at least judging by their selection. If the SDLP do select 3 or even 4 they will easily wipe the floor with PSF in Derry. In North Antrim they have selceted on gender/geography and will do the same in Derry I think. Probably, durkan, Diver and 2 others.