Sammy Morse on, East Antrim…

Trying to keep up with the prolific blogging of Sammy Morse isn’t easy. The next on his list is East Antrim, one of the more stable constituencies in this election. No change in the Unionist game here (ie five out of the six seats), though he is surprised that the DUP is not running a forth to put pressure on the UUP. The sixth seat should comfortably belong to former Alliance leader, Sean Neeson – probably one of three of the party’s safest bets in this election. The nationalist vote here is well short of a quota.

The easy question to answer is whether or not the DUP will hold those three seats. The answer is emphatically yes. Sammy Wilson polled 49.6% here in the 2005 Westminster election, while in the local elections held on the same day, the DUP polled 40.0% despite a huge vote for independents. I am somewhat surprised that the DUP aren’t running a fourth candidate here – it would be an unlikely prospect, but they certainly have the votes to make at least a credible attempt at winning four seats. As it is, their sitting tenants – Sammy Wilson, David Hilditch and George Dawson – will be returned easily enough.

That makes things easy for the Ulster Unionists, who have been bumping along around the two quota level anyway. They are pretty much assured two seats here in the absence of serious DUP pressure. Roy Beggs Jr. is certain to re-elected with a very healthy vote. Jordanstown based Ken Robinson has spent two terms in the Assembly, although he never looks that comfortable on polling day. Last time out, party colleague Roy McCune, with his strong RUC contacts, pushed Robinson within 7 votes before being eliminated. Larne Councillor Mark Dunn, who replaces McCune as the third runner this time out, may prove less of a challenge as his geographical base is close to Beggs’ and he polled a fairly anaemic vote in Larne Town in the last council elections.

  • jeep55

    East Antrim is not probably one of Alliance safest three seats – it is without doubt their safest. David Ford, when asked on BBC NI about party prospects, replied that he hopes to make one or two gains. At first that may seem unrealistic. One gain certainly – South Belfast is very definitely an open play. The second has to be the second seat here (unless he is hoping for a rise from 2% to 9% in East Londondery which even after the good council by-election result would look heady!)

    It is quite possible that the UUP have only been on 2 quotas courtesy of vote lending from former Alliance voters. If Alliance strip that back, then the combined Alliance and Nationalist votes can again reach well in excess of 2 quotas. If for once they can properly vote manage (and that means letting Stewart Dickson go ahead of Sean Neeson by 300 to 400 votes on the first count) it is possible that both can stay ahead of Danny O’Connor whereby a second APNI seat is possible. And with it a seat in government?

  • BeardyBoy

    I would have ran 4 if I was in the DUP, perhaps someone from Glenarm area like Rachel Rea, a lovely lady, who could get votes from Carnlough to Larne. That is if she wants to run. Jack is finished, I think, but Bobby would have been good. He could have tapped into the McKee good will factor.

    Ex UDR man Danny O’Connor is seriously flawed and he will admit he cannot get the Carnlough vote out, (he admitted this to me), and he is not exactly the sharpest.

    Sinn Fein has a problem here – they have ran a candidate in the past who would not be the most popular due to his perceived living arrangements, though outside of this and his seemingly offish behaviour he is okay. This has caused them to lose some support although Oliver McMullen is an impeccable reputation and is very well respected , he has the “Cushendall” factor against him, can the clannish Carnlough people break out and support him? Long standing rivalries between brother villages may yet tell a tale as they are too much alike each other.

    I would like to see Mark dunn of the UU get a seat as he is not a bigoted as the other Unionists

  • BonarLaw

    “he is not a (sic) bigoted as the other Unionists ”

    Talk about being damned by faint praise!

    Yet a terrorist apoloigist is “okay”.

    Hmm…

  • Shore Road Resident

    Oliver McMullen’s reputation is debatable (although it’s also debatable how much this affects SF’s vote). My information is that middle-class Cushendall nationalists regard him as a gormless embarrassment.

  • BeardyBoy

    he is far from gormless – do not forget that middle class Cushendall would rather have the SDLP as it is better for the image you know

  • BeardyBoy

    I have never been an apologist for the british or their lackeys – what other terrorist could you possibly be referring to?

  • Crataegus

    Basically no change. Talk of Alliance gaining a seat are fanciful though they should have a safe seat. SF are of little relevance and I often wonder why the former Independent McMullen joined SF.

    Ken Robinson will hold, he has been active in Newtownabbey and should have a fair personal vote by now.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I live in Newtownabbey, and certainly in my street Robinson is seen as a smooth talker but not a do-er. If talking to the small smattering of people around here is anything to go by, the DUP are likely to pick up preferences from people on the basis of their constituency work, including from those who do not come from a unionist background.

  • thebeardedone

    “I would like to see Mark dunn of the UU get a seat as he is not a bigoted as the other Unionists”

    You clearly do not know him very well is all I’ll say.

  • Observer

    thebeardedone

    Do tell

  • Observer

    I wouldn’t vote UUP 1, 2, or 3 but I certainly wouldn’t give either my 4 or 5 to Dunn.

    He polled something like 300 votes in Larne Town in 2005 after his daddy moved over for him. Previously he had a vote of 800 odd, I think.

    The UUP are weak in East Antrim.

    The DUP would be worthy of a 4th here but vote management is the pain.

    Beggs Snr did duck all for us in Parliament. The only reason he held on was becos of the pact with the DUP after the 1985 British sellout. If it wasn’t for that he’d been finished yrs ago.

  • BeardyBoy

    Beggs Snr helped get rid of all that waste – no problem recycling there I would say.

    Did Mark Dunn not attend the opening of a Irish Nursery School in Carnlough?

  • Carnlough

    In the 2003 assembly Oliver McMullan didnt poll too bad.Considering the fact that UDR apologist and current SDLP mayor Danny O’Connor has no support in Carnlough at all McMullan needs a strong election campaign to gain votes from nationalists in Glenarm and Larne.As a former Moyle council chairman he is high profile enough and has earned enough respect from his electorate.
    BeardyBoy-I dont think any of my neighbours would vote for Rachael Rae!
    Dunn did indeed attend the opening of the Irish nursey school

  • In the 2003 assembly Oliver McMullan didnt poll too bad.

    A whole 768 votes. Wow.

  • Carnlough

    Considering the poor turnout of nationalists in a predominately unionist area it wasnt too bad plus it was an increase on sinn feins previous east antrim assembly election vote

  • Yes, in this environmental age, let’s all remember Roy Beggs Senior’s dump – which came in very useful where the UUP had to get rid of all those incriminating manifestos double quick.

  • it was an increase on sinn feins previous east antrim assembly election vote

    An increase from 746 to 768. Wow.

    Look, I don’t want to labour the point but Sinn Féin do dismally badly in East Antrim, much worse than Danny O’Connor, ex-UDR man or no.

  • BeardyBoy

    Both sammy and Carnlough are correct – Rachel will not get votes from many Nationalists – but she is a nice person.

    Danny will get some votes from his Carnlough relatives but apart from that

    Carnlough is/has been traditional Stooper country but I feel the young are turning to SF.

    O’Connor did not do himself much favours with his apologetics for the UDR and getting photographed buying a poppy to launch this years Poppy Appeal both published in The Larne Times.

    But then he is not the smartest – how did he manage to pass the 11+?

    More examples of that calibre may change even my mind and I could yet become an advocate of comprehensive education. AAAArrrrrrrrrrrggghh – demeaning plebney ebcroaching from all sides?

  • O’Connor did not do himself much favours with his apologetics for the UDR and getting photographed buying a poppy to launch this years Poppy Appeal both published in The Larne Times.

    Mind you, Maskey didn’t do a terrible amount different when he was Lord Mayor of Belfast so I suppose it all comes down to whether or not someone wants to make capital out of it or not.