Fermanagh by-election: cure for insomnia

Okay I know many will find this really tedious: if so wait until you cannot sleep before reading it. However, it is the silly season and little is happening politically so here goes. Mark Devenport is reporting the starting line up for the Fermanagh by election. It seems that the candidates are as follows:

Alliance: Kumar Kamble
DUP: Arlene Foster
Independent Republican: Karen McHugh
SDLP: Rosemary Flanagan
SF: Debbie Coyle
UUP: Basil Johnston
Okay for anyone still remotely interested: I suspect the presence of an Alliance candidate will make little difference. I know I recently said that Alliance should contest elections beyond the Pale but I very much doubt Dr. Kamble will get a large vote. I am also pretty certain that his vote will largely transfer to unionists or nationalists: the proportions are unpredictable but I doubt it will have a massive impact.

Karen McHugh (Gerry McHugh’s daughter) standing may have some effect but again I suspect most of her vote will transfer (to SF). It will be interesting to see how well an independent republican does in this election. The election is, however, largely in Enniskillen town along with Lisbellaw and Tempo. As such I suspect her vote would be lower than it would have been had she been standing in Erne West or Erne East.

I guess I still have some regret that the TUV are not standing. As I said before, however, although it is a difficult call and the TUV were in a bit of a catch 22; I still think just about that it was right not to run. Jim Allister said much the same on Inside Politics on Saturday. Apologies to Michael Shilliday, Darth Rumsfeld and Delta Omega. Incidentally I thought Allister’s performance was highly impressive although I am of course heavily biased.

  • aquifer

    I read Jim Allister but I have a mental picture of Arthur Scargill. Am I the only one?

  • slug

    Is Karen McHugh anything to the SF guy of the same surname?

  • Garibaldy

    According to Davenport, yes. Seems weird she would stand.

  • Mark McGregor

    This is the ward Gerry McHugh has been running in for council for years and topping until vote management seems to have been more tightly addressed in recent years. If anything its a wise move by him to see if he has any personal vote for the future using his daughter as proxy or should be looking at a retirement plan. With Bernice Swift just next door it seems a wise move to have a look at the non-SF but non-armed struggle demographic in the constituency.

    I also reckon it’ll end up ensuring the DUP hold the seat.

  • slug

    Dr Kumar Kamble seems like an excellent candidate – well educated, a medical doctor, and having worked and lived in many countries (and with a wife who is a History Prof) he should be able to bring a fresh perspective. If I lived there, I would vote for him. I am delighted that someone of that high callibre is entering politics.

  • slug

    Roermary Flannagan (SDLP) seems a solid and experienced candidate. This is turning out to be an interesting election.

    Of what calibre is DCoyle?

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    “This is turning out to be an interesting election.”
    Why, I’ve heard talk of nothing else all weekend.

  • Odling-Smee

    The real irrelevance in this contest would appear to be Basil Johnston.

    Poor Bertie Kerr may regret his rather ill-conceived actions. Although given the arrogance of said Councillor, it will probably be 18th September before the gravity of his stupidity dawns on him.

  • http://www.thebelfaststoop.com/2008/08/sdlp-select-candidate-for-enniskillen.html

    A by-election that never should be contested. Arlene Foster will be wearing a different hat compared to the one she has been wearing for the past 12 months. She is part of a party which is more than happy to share power with Sinn Fein in the Executive, but will be running to save this seat for unionism. Pure hypocrisy. Added to this, the fact that she has already resigned from this council, and is responsible for the RPA plans to scrap Fermanagh District Council, she may be the worst choice for Fermanagh voters out of the field.

    Rosemary Flanagan is the only candidate who will stand up for the people of Fermanagh and stick to her election promises.

    Flanagan 1

  • Pancho’s Horse

    Does Ms Flanagan belong to the same party as 50p Currie?

  • HaHaHA

    Pancho if you got 50p everytime someone laughed at your 30 year old joke you might be lucky and have 50p by now.

  • DC

    “Rosemary Flanagan is the only candidate who will stand up for the people of Fermanagh and stick to her election promises.”

    Shameless political flogging there, now I know why you are called the stoop down low party. Anything for a cheap bit of popularity-chasing on Slugger!

    So, tell me what exactly are these election promises, besides the nationalist/SF voters should come out for the UUP on this one, to do one over the DUP and Foster who deserves it right up her for some real bizarre behaviour. Complete and utter two-facedness going on here about leaving council to focus only to stand again. Ship-jumper and shit talker too.

    Anyway vote SDLP to stop the DUP I don’t think, vote UUP everyone just for the joys of seeing Arlene spurned at council level, absolutely brilliant.

    But remember, seriously though, people like Arlene don’t like it up them and a UUP win over SF would really put it up her. Maybe she might re-join the UUP again??????

  • Odling-Smee


    Wishful thinking if ever there was an example of such.

    Arlene Foster is by far the most high profile and highly regarded unionist in this election.

    Basil Johnston has been rejected on the last 2 occassions he presented himself before the voters of Enniskillen DEA. Third time lucky? I think not…

    I think the only person getting anything “right up her” on 18th September will be you and your Utterly Useless Party.

  • DC

    I think Arlene must take the people of Fermanagh as fools, using ministerial profile and exposure to go back on her word just to secure party-politics, it’s a cheap and easy to spot see-thru tactic.

    Complete and utter eyewash, that’s all it is – eyewash. Treat the voters as stupid and well just wait and see what happens. If Arlene takes this seat then unionists deserve to be called idiots because Arlene thinks she owns the voters, like a master does a servant – no way.

    Votes are rented not bought out, I hope people realise this on the day, personally speaking it’s a risky strategy and clearly risky for the brazen cheek of the DUP to put her up to it. No consistency with that woman, I wouldn’t trust her, seriously. She put the fear of God up the people, her and Paisley only serving to drive Sinn Fein in to office as a result of negative campaigning, a Robinson hatched strategy no doubt.

  • Odling-Smee


    Will you join with me in calling for Reg Empey and Michael McGimpsey to resign either their council or MLA/Ministerial positions forthwith?

    Clearly this is the only course of action left open to them, whereby they can distance themselves from Mrs. Foster’s potential “double-jobbing”.

    Failure to do so will show them as little more than hypocrites. And the nonsense being put in Basil Johnston’s press statements by his minder as worthless drivel.

  • DC

    Arlene Foster is guilty of inconsistency, she is an inconsistency recidivist.

    Seymour Sweeney ‘of a mind’ and then not of a mind. Come on please.

  • Mack

    As a DUP voter, I would be happy to vote for Arlene. She is a very capable person and the only true candidate to stand and the only one who can retain the seat for unionism.

    It is time that people stood firmly behind Arlene and ensured she got elected to replace the long time set held by Joe Dodds(RIP)

  • DC

    David Trimble held his seat for a long time in Upper Bann but was bullied and pushed around the doors of his car, his wife too – for what working with the SDLP; people have voted for Arlene before and in doing so they blew in SF as well. Why because inconsistency breeds inconsistency because the strategy used brought in SF as a result of negativity. Counter-productive.

    The DUP exaggerated political threats from having SF in the political process yet it is the DUP that is in office with SF. Does that not strike you as inconsistent?

    The DUP exploited unionists psychologically, they are at it again. The DUP have panicked by sending in the heavy weight only to be shown up as hypocrites as Arlene is doing it not out of love for council, but to keep counsel in the DUP echelons of power, power by cronyism. I expect this to be counter-productive too.

    If it was anyone else from camp DUP then fine but this is clearly ridiculous having Arlene going back on her word, so for what reason? Who benefits, will it really be the people of Fermanagh?

  • I wonder will it be like the South where the govt never wins by-elections (since 1982)? 🙂

  • Comrade Stalin

    Posted by The Belfast Stoop on Aug 18, 2008 @ 10:53 PM

    You can’t keep a good stoop down!

  • Abraham De Rossa

    Is Karen McHugh only 18? If I am not mistaken she was still at Mount Lourdes Grammar School when she did an interview shortly after her father left Sinn Fein.

    Not that she would ever get my vote, but I’m sure she’ll attract a good enough personal vote. As for a dissident republican vote; a few hundred at most.

  • Bisto


    Yes Jim was very cock-sure of himself, until Devenport asked him about his offices expenses….

  • Marcus

    Im very interested to see how Karen McHugh does. She will get the ‘Republican Vote’ and because she is quite young im sure she will get a youthful vote as well. Also her dad is a well liked public figure and im sure she will recieve his vote. im not sure it would be enough to get elected but id say she will get a decent result. Enough to split the Shinner vote anyway!

  • Turgon


    Yes then he answered that one rather well also.

  • Bigger Picture

    Stoop (Cllr Kelly)

    Your shameless flogging of the SDLP is only tainted by your idiocy.

    “the fact that she has already resigned from this council, and is responsible for the RPA plans to scrap Fermanagh District Council”

    She is DETI minister not DOE. No conflict of interest.

    “She is part of a party which is more than happy to share power with Sinn Fein in the Executive, but will be running to save this seat for unionism. Pure hypocrisy”

    How is that hypocrisy? A mandatory coalition doesn’t mean that unionists want to give more seats to nationalists/republicans. To take a council model (you will be familiar with this now Niall) if the Tories run a council in England in coalition with the Lib Dems should they then not fight a by-election to save the seat going to labour or the lib dems simply because they are in coalition with another party? Of course not.

  • Abraham De Rossa

    Perhaps Cllr. Kelly/Belfast Stoop could give us his view on his party’s only Minister who is also………..(drum role)……….. a councillor.

  • Abraham De Rossa

    Could you also give a breakdown of how your party’s South Belfast MP devotes his time to the follow:

    -His 3 days a week as a GP
    -His role as an MLA
    -His role as an MP
    -Managing his property empire
    -His position of Deputy Leader

  • Gavin


    I suggest that if you want a break down of how Alasdair spends his time, you should ask him.

    Margaret Ritchie is a councillor but it was not her role as Minister to bring through the RPA and remove dual mandates, it was Arlene Foster’s. Arlene may not be DoE minister any more but she should still stand by the standards she set down. When she stops being DETI Minister will she do another flip flop and endorse an planned economy as opposed to market?

    But forget about the dual mandates, pathetic as it is, the laughable part about the DUP in this by-election is that they scrapped their original candidate when the election was forced. That’s a really nice way to set up a young guy with potential; ‘we’ll stick you on the council when it’s not a problem for us but we don’t think you’ve a hope of actually being elected’. Great way to motivate young people.

  • Truth

    This will be an interesting election from a Republican perspective, the Sinn Fein candidate is an unknown even within the Sinn Fein party in Fermanagh, she isn’t local and would be seen by most in the county as a bad choice someone who has joined Sinn Fein when she was able to get a job and pay check out of it. For someone in the county over 12 years she only joined the party 2 years ago? In saying that Debbie Coyle is probably the only person they could get to stand as Sinn Fein have no activists in Enniskillen most left in the past 12 months over policing. It’s more a case of desperation and anyone is better than no one. They are canvassing Enniskillen and have no one from the town out with them, all drafted in from other areas and counties, hardly a good sign. I predict their will be a low turn out and with the bad feelings on the ground the way Sinn Fein have abandoned the grass roots and with all the high profile resignations within the county the Sinn Fein vote will be reduced at least 20-25% and Arlene Foster to take the seat, I think transfers from unionist, alliance and sdlp will put her well ahead of the Sinn Fein candidate.

  • bisto


    He was very weak on it. Tried to say he answered the questions on his website when he knew the question re. who owns his office isn’t answered on it!

  • muppet

    bigger picture:

    “the fact that she has already resigned from this council, and is responsible for the RPA plans to scrap Fermanagh District Council”

    She is DETI minister not DOE. No conflict of interest.

    i had been wondering about this. is sammy wilson still a belfast councillor? is there a conflict of interest being a minister responsible for local government and ‘being on the board’ of a local council?

  • Abraham De Rossa

    So who DOES own Jim Allister’s office?

    Surely it couldn’t be? Could it? After all those statements? And FOI requests? No? Please say it’s not so….

  • bisto


    His family owns it.

  • Abraham De Rossa

    His wife or one of the children?

    Did they buy it themselves or did he buy it for them?

    What is the employment status of his wife/children that they would have enough capital to purchase such an office?

  • STruth


    At least that dreadful Erigi woman Bernice Swift isn’t standing.

  • Abraham De Rossa

    Now, now.

    She’s a nice wee girl underneath…

  • Abraham De Rossa

    I think Bernice’s main problem is that her enthusiasm rather starkly outweighs her ability.

    In her first year on council she regularly picked fights Arlene Foster and others of superior intellect and capability, only to be rather humiliatingly mauled.

    But she’s always right (offcourse), so there’s so no stopping her.

  • bisto


    Funny how Turgon (Allister hagiographer extraordinaire) has fallen silent….

  • Truth

    STruth – thank god that Bernice Swift ‘dreadful eirigi woman’ isnt standing?….She is ALREADY elected to Council you tube – do you know anything about Fermanagh politics?, obviously not?, but you seem to have strong opinions on Bernice Swift? did she spurn your own political prowess or challenge perhaps your chauvinism at one time?, or is it that you just have a problem with strong-minded independent women. Vote Karen McHugh STruth.

  • Truth

    Hey Abe De Rossa – funny you perceive Arlene Foster to be of some sort of superior intellect person?..you make me laugh out loud, and what was even more laughable was how you have perceived the Republican female to have ever been ‘humiliatingly mauled’ by the same party-jumper?, Not sure if anyone male or female would like to be mauled by Foster?
    Surely it has been Arlene Foster that has not only humiliated herself in any confrontation with Swift, but also her party, her voters (and i obviously include all those UUP people who voted for her)…I think you were right the first time, B Swift seems to be a nice wee girl. Which ‘horse’ are you backing, are you voting for Arlene?

  • Pancho’s Horse

    HaHaHa, it was no joke then and is no joke now, ye boy ye! I don’t know if I offended your sensitivity as a stoop or as a curmodgeon or both.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    gabh mo leithscĂ©al – curmudgeon

  • Mack

    As a voter in Fermanagh the DUP have an excellent candidate in Arlene Foster. If the other parties had someone as capable as her they would be better off.

    The RPA has nothing to do with DETI and therefore has every right to run for election.

    Jim Alister has lied to the people on his stance on power sharing, he shows his colours when he proposes a voluntary coalition with SF surely this would be worse as SF would get more ministerial seats but if I remember correctly in any of his rants before May 8th 2007 he was happy to enter into the current system of government later that year. proves to me that he is power hungry and returned to politics to quench his thirst to be a leader although leading all those headbangers in the TUV is not much to be proud of.

  • Marcus

    Quite an interesting article in todays Irish News regarding Karen McHugh.

    She says she is stepping away from republicanism to stand as an independent so that she can represent all views.

    Ofcourse id say she will still recieve that republican vote for who her dad is but its great to see a young person who doesent feel the need to take a politcal stance here.

  • STruth


    I know nothing about Fermanagh except that it has some nice lakes and a cave but I have met this Bernice Swift woman once. She clearly has a very very high opinion of herself and remarkably little talent. She was very rude and ignorant but maybe that was because I am a Protestant ‘victim’. I don’t know. I was thinking more that she would stand a proxy a bit like this McHugh fella standing his daughter. It doesn’t really matter as Arlene Foster will probably take the seat with Sinn Fein, no matter who they stand, coming in second.

    Is this election not actually about the bigger picture e.g the DUP vs SF stand-off. Or is it really just about local issues.

    PS. Why was there a by-election and not a co-option in the first place.

  • Probably the only really safe prediction is that Alliance will have the biggest “swing” in their % of vote figure though probably not necessarily in voting numbers.

    ps do any bookies do bets on these wee elections?

  • truth

    STruth: allow me to explain briefly to your abject ignorance on the Fermanagh By-Election –

    The available seat is vacant due to recent death of Joe Dodds in the ‘ENNISKILLEN’ area of FErmanagh – Independent Councillor Bernice Swift stands in the ‘Erne West’ area of Fermanagh, so why would she be interested in contesting a seat in EKN, proxy or otherwise? – im sure like most other real political animals she knows full well this election is a complete joke, farsical and should not have been called in the first place. The young Thomas Hogg co-option should have been allowed to go ahead. Also, I would strongly question your claim to be a ‘protestant vicitm’ – are you telling the TRUTH, STRUTH? and that Bernice Swift was rude to you because of the same? ridiculous – I too have met this woman, she is definitely not rude, nor is a bigot. It is a known fact that she paid respects at the wake of the late Joe Dodds DUP whose seat is being contested, does this sound like a rude bigot to you? Perhaps it is you who is being rude? Granted and I agree with you, that she does have strong, but well-thought opinions, she has strong sense of self, which can be intimidating but this should be commended.
    All things considered STRUTH, I think that if the only thing you honestly know about Fermanagh is that it has ‘some nice lakes’, then my advice to you is that you should cool off, and go jump in one of them!

  • Phil Allister

    The UUP were right to force a by-election.

    Thomas Hogg is a prick.

    No matter who wins it’s the same result. The DUP are co-equal with Sinn Fein.

  • STruth


    You seem to be cut very much from the same cloth as this Bernice woman. I was just giving you my honest opinion. There really is no need to be so defensive about Ms Swift if she is as wonderfull as yiou claim, which I would dispute based on my very limited contact with her.

    PS. You have all the manners and ability to debate that one would normally expect of a lunatic, fundamentalist, exremist or (yes) bigot.

  • Phil Allister

    I have met Thomas Hogg before at Queen’s.

    He is no friend of the TUV.

  • Truth

    Your obviously not aware how to debate your initial comments concerning Cllr Swift which were totally off the mark weren’t even related to the initial piece which was about a By-Election in Enniskillen? something you admitted you knew very little about, I believe it was a cave and lakes was all you knew about Fermanagh? Other than attacking Cllr Swift where were your points for a debate? But if you knew nothing about the story in hand you would have been as well saying nothing. I certainly won’t take any lectures from YOU on manners or ability to debate i suggest you take a look in the mirror and analyse yourself before you start making stupid ignorant remarks.