The BBC are carrying the news that there may be a council by election in Ballymoney. DUP councillor Roy Wilson has apparently resigned and Jim Allister has suggested that he may force a by election. Cllr Wilson was a DUP councillor for the Bann Valley electoral area. At the last election the breakdown of votes was: DUP: 2,250 (43.3%), 3 seats
SF: 1,751 (33.7%), 2 seats
UUP: 646 (12.4%)
SDLP: 550 (10.6%), 1 seat
As such there seems to be a modest but clear unionist majority.
Clearly this is a different proposition from Dromore which had a rock solid unionist majority; however, it is also different from the Enniskillen by election where there was no definite unionist majority. Hence, Allister probably feels that it would be safe to fight this seat knowing that its falling to Sinn Fein is fairly unlikely (though not completely impossible). Also of course Ballymoney and North Antrim, unlike Dromore (a pretty median unionist town), are the heartlands of hard line unionism. As such the TUV must fancy their chances if an election does occur. A highly significant additional factor is that North Antrim is the constituency in which Jim Allister intends to stand at the next election. In view of that a preliminary skirmish in North Antrim before the Westminster election show down between Allister and most likely a Paisley (one or the other) would be very useful for testing the water.