Fearghal McKinney to run for Fermanagh South Tyrone…

What is it about old UTV men, and politics? First Mike Nesbitt in Strangford for the UUP and now Fearghal McKinney in Fermanagh South Tyrone for the SDLP. No doubt about who has the harder task, Michelle Gildernew is a popular figure and clearly feels her time at Agriculture will stand her in good stead over McKinney. Still, he’s the first impact player the SDLP have managed to pull in from outside the political game for a party who’s public representatives generally lack just such qualities. His initial statement is below the fold:

“This is a new era for politics and a new era for the SDLP. This country needs a strong SDLP and the people of the North need strong representation at Westminster.

“Today I have submitted my application to represent the party in the constituency of Fermanagh South Tyrone in the forthcoming Westminster election. This election will be won and lost on the doorsteps and I am keen to build on the good work of Tommy Gallagher and others in the weeks and months ahead. I know I have a fight ahead of me to win the seat but I am looking forward to the challenge.”

  • granni trixie

    After the clearout at UTV surely Pamela Balentine is looking for a job too – but for which party?

  • What about the bloggers? Will you be throwing your hat into the ring in North Down, Mick? Pete in Mid Ulster? I think I’ll give North Antrim a miss 🙂

  • not forgetting Eamonn Mallie, the master of the tweets, in South Down!!

  • granni trixie

    OMG – just seen that already Ferghal has been induced into the SF/SDLP strategic lingo. Its just a minor annoyance but so obviously using “the North” in this coded way tends to distract from other communication significances, therefore counterproductive. I have no problem should North slip into conversation, ordinary fashion, but have to say it is not an expression I would ordinarily use. Think SF were first to hit us over the head with it – SDLP not to be outdone?.

    Wonder if F. McK was ‘Northing’ it when reporting for UTV?

  • abc123

    granni trixie –

    Margaret Ritchie normally has a sensible attitude to it and often says Northern Ireland. SF play a childish game given that they are sitting in the Northern Ireland Assembly. Fearghal McKinney is perhaps trying to play to the ‘crowd’ which is now used to SF political language.

    Looks like F&ST; will be an interesting fight.

  • Brian Walker

    I am of course very old and quite rightly forgotten, but there have been times when I’ve been tempted to stand for executive governor with full powers. Many commenters obviously know the feeling..

  • Mick Fealty

    I would say this is the first of a two stage fight.

    Fearghal’s primary job is to get the party’s vote rate back up, and start building towards two quotas for next year. It’s a canny move, regardless of what anyone choses to call Northern Ireland.

  • Alias

    “Its just a minor annoyance but so obviously using “the North” in this coded way tends to distract from other communication significances, therefore counterproductive.”

    They like it because it is a relative term that is normally used geographically within a sovereign jurisdiction. It reinforces the bogus propaganda among the muppets that vote for them that Ireland is a single sovereign jurisdiction, and that they are in the north of it rather than in the separate sovereign jurisdiction of Northern Ireland (which they all agreed is a legitimate part of the United Kingdom).

    It might seem “counterproductive” in that they appear to be rejecting the constitutional status of the UK and revoking their support for the GFA but it is actually productive ‘creative ambiguity’ in that it serves to reinforce the line that they regard British sovereignty as illegitimate, and that’s very reassuring to those whom they led to declare it legitimate.

  • unsettled

    interesting- obviously the chattering classes are finally getting pissed off with the complete hash politicans are making and are finally climbing back into the political arena to reclaim what tands to be called “the centre ground”.
    Go Fearghal! (and Mike!)

  • granni trixie

    Have to say that I rate Ferghal much more highly than Mike Nesbitt. Don’t care if he’s been to Cambridge or a media person – do not find him particularly politically astute or good ar articulating a view. We can already see from McKinney on tele however that he is no novice in understanding politics and good communicator.

    However in each case, you do wonder if UTV were not offloading them would they put their head above the parapit? We need ‘new’ blood in politics but they are not new blood – they were commenting on the sidelines during the troubles.

  • Greenflag

    No prizes for guessing whose side the BBC NI is on when it comes to reporting on the upcoming election.

    From the BBC NI site a news item on the new SDLP candidate includes the following .

    ‘In the 2005 general election, the seat was won by Sinn Fein’s Michelle Gildernew with 18,638.
    She narrowly defeated the DUP’s Arlene Foster, who won 14,506 votes.’

    My numerical skills tell me that Michelle Gildernew’s majority over Arlene Foster was 4,100 votes ? Is that considered a ‘narrow ‘victory in a constituency which has a history of much narrower wins ?

    Perhaps those BBC NI reporters need to back to school and larn their numbers 😉

    Gildernew will hold the seat no question. A few more reports like the above from the BBC will give her an even bigger majority .

  • Dec


    Presumably if Fearghal had made reference to ‘the Province’ or ‘Ulster’ (technically, a bigger constitutional blooper than ‘the North’, I would suggest) neither of you would have felt the need to register your disapproval on a website.

  • granni trixie

    Dec: I think it is legitmate to register on a blog a mild irrtiation (no more than that) when politicans think we are not conscious of their intent. I think this is fair enough.

  • Dec


    As you didn’t answer my question, I’ll re-phrase it: if he’d said ‘the province’ or ‘Ulster’ would you have logged your mild irritation online?

    Whilst you seemed to imply SF first introduced this nomenclature (presumably, around the same time, some people seem to believe, they devised the concept of Orange marches being provocative), my experience is that generally people have been referring to ‘the North’ for at least as long as they’ve been referring to ‘the South’.

  • dodrade

    Call me shallow, but as this is turning into the UTV election I have to say i’d vote for the gorgeous Claire McCollum no matter what party she was standing for!

    On a serious note though, surely this move would increase a unionist unity candidate’s chance of taking the seat.

  • granni trixie

    Dec: It may be generational but I do not agree with you.

    All I know is that my whole life which goes back to pre Troubles ‘here’ was Northern Ireland and ‘the South’ was sometimes called ‘the Republic’.

    ‘Ulster’ and ‘the province’ was not part of my usual terminology – so its possible this is the cultural impact of living in West Belfast most of my life.

    So I was very conscious when alofasudden it seemed in certain contexts in this last few years “the North”, had arrived. I do not just mean in poltical discourse in the context of Republican/Narionalist parties but in quasi political voluntary groups such as the CAJ.

    I suppose this all points to struggles over identity, a serious point you will agree I am sure.And as people play trivial pursuits on this site that is another reason I believe I have no case to answer for bringing up the North.

  • PACE Parent

    How many more closet politicians are lurking within the local media scene?

    The impact of the media on the politics of our time was addressed by the Ditchley Foundation http://www.ditchley.co.uk/ in 2003. Some excerpts include:
    “the public’s view of the trustworthiness of both press and politicians was low and the public’s disengagement from the formal political process was measured by increasing abstention from voting at elections. A range of reasons were adduced for this from the professional media training of politicians and their attempts to manage the press to political activism on their part by journalists. The new media and bloggers who put their views directly to an increasingly e-literate public without the intermediation of the established press, were seen as alternative avenues for political expression.”

    “A number of measures were suggested to ameliorate the situation and create confidence between the two sides. These included daily on the record briefings published on TV, clear rules about unattributable quotes, a substantial Freedom of Information Act, the Press’s willingness to correct their own mistakes, clear separation of factual reporting and comment in the press and further thought about ownership of the press. One participant suggested that, when absorbing the news, the public should be covered against inaccuracies and distortions in the same way as consumers were protected against flaws in other products.”

    One could be forgiven for thinking that locally both parties haven’t a clue about Ditchley.

  • Fabianus

    I can’t say I’m bowled over by the thought of another TV presenter trying his hand at politics.

    Appearances can be deceptive and TV can deceive more than many other media. Simply because an on-screen commentator appears to know a lot about politics does not make him a politician.

    In fact he’s little more than a critic. Political life is a rough-and-tumble business where vision and decision-making abilities are what count. Not criticism. We can all be critics, and generally are.

    Critics have their place and function, as do politicians. It’s been said that no one ever erected a statue to a critic and there’s wisdom in that.

  • Wabbits

    I think this is a brilliant tactical move by the SDLP in FST.

    McKinney is an extremely able individual, from what I can tell of him, and his familiarity among the electorate will play well for an improvement in the SDLP share of the vote in the upcoming general election and in future assembly election.

    I also think it a healthy thing that SF don’t have it all their own way. Power corrupts and absolute power and all that jazz. Better that there is a strong SDLP to keep them in check. I concur with Mr McKinney on that one.

  • The Original Sam Maguire

    Meh. SF losing party members in hand over fist in Fermanagh is more likely to do them damage in FST than McKinney and the SDLP. I doubt the ex-SF contingent in Fermanagh with flock to the silver fox.

    Unless Norman Baxter stands as an agreed Unionist candidate, it’ll still come down to Gildernew vs Foster

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Tommy Gallagher has never been high profile except in Fermanagh …..and I say “Fermanagh” deliberately as FST……has a distinct Fermanagh and South Tyrone divide. Austin Currie for example could not really bridge that gap.
    Back in 1973, the SDLp got two of the three seats in the area (republican abstention being a factor here) and had an unfortunate er scandal involving Fermanagh MLA (Tom Daly) and a council secretary.
    The 1970s “Unity” candidates such as Frank McManus & Frank maguire worked against SDLP building up a real structure there.
    And of course Bobby Sands and the trauma therein.

    FST has therefore been unable to punch its weight in FST and the Party fears a West Tyrone style meltdown. As Gallagher is a veteran approaching 70 and a former schoolteacher he is probably looking forward to retiring.
    Fearghal McKinney wont actually win FST but he will obviously enter the next Stormont and as has been observed, this is actually the plan. More likely at the expense of Gerry McHugh.
    The die is already cast in FST. I think Gildernew will lose the seat against a single UUP candidate (yes I know Foster is nominated).
    Her previous results have been against TWO unionists. That 4,000 majority is on less than 40% of the poll.
    McKinney will have to fight to retain “soft” SDLP votes boosting Gildernew in a sectarian headcount. But his profile should at least gain as many. Gallagher got less than 7,000 last time.

    So we therefore have a new style SDLP candidate. Or do we? McKinney is in the mold of Conall McDevitt……not of course a bad thing in itself but too many media savvy types at the expense of real politicians would be bad.
    SDLP should learn the lesson of New Labour.

    I have long wondered about the political aspirations of the Overclass in the local Media. It cant really have surprised anyone that Mike Nesbitt (ex Campbell College is actually a….unionist. Can it surprise anyone that Ferghal McKinney a Fermanagh Catholic is…..not a Unionist.
    We have had this bizarre ritual/conceit over 40 years that our TV presenters are apolitical. Nonsense of course.
    For the best part of 25 years I have been shouting out their party allegiance and voting habits each time they appear on screen.
    For example…Walter Love…commentator on Orange marches……I suspect he is not a Sinn Féin voter.
    Times have actually moved …there is a different centre of political gravity.
    To tose of us who remember Michael Baguely (sp) and Maurice Shillington reading the BBC News, I certainly remember my late fathr being very impressed that Denis Tuohy was a catholic.
    Likewise Brian Durkan at UTV.

    Circa 1970, there was a general belief (rather like the RUCs Catholics) that media Catholics were “establishment” so McKinney declaring openly his SDLPism is a sign of the times.
    In ten years Jackie Fullerton will announce his SF status and declare himself as opposing Ian Paisley junior in North Antrim.

    A serious question does arise. If we ignore the (far too many Workers Party types) the BBC and UTV Newsrooms should be representative of society as a whole. If we assume these people have a higher stake in society (mortgages, schools, taxes) than the “underclass” (who feel outside society) then perhaps up to 80% actually vote.
    Hopefully this reflects our Divided Society.
    Or dare we say that an “educated” person is more likely to be SDLP/AP or UUP than SF or DUP.
    It would surely be bad for journalism if quotas were imposed (I dont suggest it seriously) but the very fact that journalists seem so disconnected from the politicians on whom they report is not good either.
    On Sunday night Jim Fitzpatrick clearly crossed the line between interview and abuse when he interviewed Gerry Adams.
    (Note Jim Fitzpatrick gets two complimentary mentions on Conall McDevitts blog this week).
    Has Jim (ex Irish News) have political ambitions?

  • FitzjamesHorse

    On the “Northern Ireland” versus “North of Ireland” debate……..around the time of Norn Irons 50th anniversary (1971 I think) local BBC News carried a vox pop report outside the old “main” Post Office in Royal Avenue (its favourite place to stop the Belfast person).

    Should we say Northern Ireland or Ulster was the question.
    A young man……best described as a moron ……was asked.

    “Ulster!” he replied
    “Well……because its more Protestant …like”

    Cut to Larry McCoubrey in the studio raising a very superior eyebrow.

  • Do you think junior will keep on fighting North Antrim after his defeat?

  • iluvni

    I hear big Julian is being lined up by the DUP to replace Iris in Strangford.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Would be a good “party (sic) game”.
    Those weather presenters are bound to be Green activists……but then they prolly know global warming is a myth.

  • I thought it was a pity that George Lee’s talent -as an economist – was badly unused by Fine Gael but I do think it’s presumptious of media people who have no obvious talent apart from their media abilities (which is important) going into politics and then the media assume – as Mick does above in his reference to FM being an ‘impact’ player – that he has a divine right, almost, to election. I don’t know Ferghal McKinney from Adam – and I assume he’s a top class fellow – but star quality on TV may not be necessarily the same thing as star quality on the ballot paper.

    I wish him the best of luck.

  • Dec


    I’ll take you at your word though I have personal reservations about how much you get out in your life, if you think ‘the North’ is a carefully constructed weapon in the identity wars. However the point remains that you, and others, are applying standards to one side that aren’t being demanded of the other.

  • brendan

    FJH: You wrote, So we therefore have a new style SDLP candidate. McKinney is in the mold of Conall McDevitt……not of course a bad thing in itself but too many media savvy types at the expense of real politicians would be bad.
    SDLP should learn the lesson of New Labour.

    What do you mean, be careful they don’t end up in power for 13 years? Yeah, that would be a disaster.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Well Conchubar, I made perhaps my most vitriolic comment on this Board in relation to George Lee.
    Without repeating it….because it clearly upset another poster……I belive Lee was pampered and spoiled.
    That he wasnt a team player.
    For maybe two decades there has been a dearth of genuine SDLP young talent (eg Margaret Ritchie is now their leader) so McKinney is to be welcomed.

    Brendan…..excellent point, well made.
    On the other hand…..Peter Mandelson. Tony B Liar. Alistair Campbell.

    Not of course suggesting McDevitt is in that mold. But I just hope SDLP have the wisdom to listen to his PR guru advice. But to be very careful of the advice they act on.

  • dodrade

    21. Fitzjameshorse how do you reckon the DUP will support a UUP candidate in FST without a quid pro quo in South Belfast?

  • FitzjamesHorse

    I refer you to other threads on this where I have made my position clear.
    There will be no “formal agreement” in FST but UUP (or the Conservatives at least) are committed to every seat.
    Therefore they will stand in FST.
    DUP will not put up a candidate.
    There will be a nod and a wink in respect of South Belfast. Both DUP and UUP will stand. UUP will select a complete non-entity and the DUP will win.

  • Macanna

    I want penny smith to come over and stand as a tory candidate, she would get my vote. And grannie as long as I can remember here was known as the north and the south was down south.

  • granni trixie

    FJH: Thanks for a good laf – I was thinking at 21 above what a good ‘party’ game. Mark Corruthers would be a super Extra for Alliance except soon he will not be able to vote,getting younger and younger looking.

    Or a variation of the game: which character in the Archers would stand for which political party…

    But on to more serious matters. FMcK is a well experienced political analyst/commentator whereas McDevitt is not in the same league,starting to find his feet in a media type job and liable to put his foot in his mouth through inexperience.

    Also do not underestimate Arlene Foster (as many pundits and her own party tend to do)- I imagine that she could do whatever she set her mind to.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    granni trixie,
    Point taken on Arlene but she prolly has her mind on other things…..Deputy Leadership or better in the DUP (with Doddsy at Westminster) and herself as First Minister.
    Oh Carruthers looks likea Young (and Young) Unionist. For some peculiar reason he is looked on as a success story by QUB School of History.

    Cant say that Ive heard the Archers since the 1960s…TV sets are more reliable now.
    I thought that all they ever did was talk about leaflets on Warble Fly from the Ministry of Agriculture “hold on Mr Archer while I write that name of that form down……..can you repeat it slowly”

    Admittedly Ive played the same game with Coronation Street. You can amaze your family by pointing out that the first episode featured thre young men going back to the Street. The theme is “Rovers Return”
    By the way have you noticed that real life (ie Politics and World Cup) is NEVER mentioned in Coronation Street but is a background in “Eastenders”.
    I think Roy and Hayley are Liberal Democrats (not actually “Green”)

  • FitzjamesHorse

    oops Carruthers a success story at QUB School of POLITICS. Sorry.

  • granni trixie

    I have a sort of Firewall which keeps sports type news out of my consciousness hence refs to the World Cup pass me by. ere sport tthis terrific facility (as you do). As may be obvious, I am interested in culture, so this is surprising but there it is.

    If I did not reside in NI (ie not in ‘The North’)I would be a Labourite/Trade union supporter with all its faults, so I will now look out for characters with this tendency in C Street. Must say from memory most characters seem to be working class Conservatives
    (and tend not to agree re Hayley and Lin Dems).

  • granni trixie

    Sorry about typos/bad editing.

  • granni trixie

    Maccanna: thank you, it was indeed “down south”.

  • An Phoblacht Abu

    Id be very surprised if this lands even one extra vote for the SDLP, much like they believed they would win West Tyrone with Brid Rodgers the republican/nationalist vote in the area wont take kindly to the idea of a unionist getting near to elected and will actually increase the vote for Provisional Sinn Fein.

  • brendan

    I think Fergal McKinney winning the seat is a near impossibility, but, he could very well increase the SDLP vote. There is nothing to say he is not in for the long haul, and therefore an Assembly seat beckons next year.

    I fear FJH could be spot on with his take on an informal unspoken pact between unionist parties in FST and SB. Even unspoken and informal it would still be wrong, a head count by another name.

  • socaire

    Mr Horse, the word is ‘probably’. But then you prolly know that?

  • Medillen

    An even handed fair analysis, as always, by Brendan the SDLP party aparatchik from Belfast.

    An Assembly seat may well beckon, if what sparked Fergals’ interest, was that he was promised that the long standing candidate, Tommy Gallagher was standing down. Therefore little effort required for a seat on the hill at the next election, tempting for many an unemployed UTV presenter.

  • aquifer

    The UUP must fight South Belfast. The slow attrition of the Destruction of Unionism Party has to begin somewhere, better for the Union if the SDLP win. Really. The SDLP have political ideas, we need ideas in politics for politics to work. The Paisleyites buying votes with bus passes and falling in and out with Sinn Fein and everyone else is not the same thing, and will just destabilise the country, and not for the first time.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    An Phoblacht Abu,
    The crucial difference is that McKinney has not been parchuted into FST. He is very much a Fermanagh man.
    Also there can be few if any SDLP members in FST who will be annoyed at his selection. Gallagher almost 70 has probably had enough and the only other SDLP person I can even think of in FST is Vincent Currie and he is no spring chicken and not exactly the sort who would motivate anyone like McKinney.

    West Tyrone was a disaster for Bríd Rodgers and the SDLP.
    Even Joe Byrne, not exactly charismatic SHOULD have beaten William Thompson in 1997. The SDLP completely blew it in under-estimating Pat Doherty.
    They thought they were home and dry.
    In 2001, Rodgers was practically imposed and a lot of SDLP people did not even campaign for her. Bringing canvassers in from Armagh, Derry and Lurgan only made things worse.
    Omagh traditionally has not been a good hunting ground for SDLP.
    Stephen McKenna could never eliver the area in the old Mid Ulster days. Now the SDLP does not even have a MLA in West Tyrone.
    Rodgers (a big name) actually LOST votes in 2001.
    For a person for whom I have great respect, it was perhaps her worst ever political moment.
    The tensions between McMenamins Strabane folks and Byrnes Omagh folks resulted in McMenamin getting only 4,000 votes in 2005.
    And even though they got a combined 6,000 votes in 2007, inter party rivalry meant they could not get a MLA elected.
    As far as I know Joe Byrne is selected to fight 2010….a bad decision in my view as there is a young Dr Deehan there who would at least have been a better long term prospect.
    West Tyrone is a basket case for the SDLP

  • An Phoblacht Abu

    I respect what your saying FJH but i think sectarian headcount politics will play big into it if the people see a combined Unionist candidate they will go with the proven winner to ensure the seat stays Nationalist.
    Rodgers lost them votes in West Tyrone because of her attitude to the voters at the doorstep, myself and her had a conversation and that convinced me to vote Sinn Fein when i intented not to vote

  • LabourNIman

    ‘This is a new era for politics’ – which is why he is standing for a sectarian party. Just smashing!

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Well An Phoblact Ive tried to cover that earlier.

    In the four way fight in 2005, Gildnernew won by 4,000 votes.
    The combined Nationalist vote about 26,000
    The combined Unionist vote was 23,000.

    So Id reckon 23,000 plus would win it for a single unionist candiadate.
    With Gildernew on 18,500 ish….she would need at least 4,500 of Gallaghers 7,200 votes from last time.
    Yes some would undoubtedly swing to Gildernew.
    But not nearly enough. Frankly if Gallagher was in the race instead of McKinney that would be more likely.
    SF will lose this seat.
    And Jim Allister (who would not have stood a candidate anyway) can legitimately endorse the new “rejectionist” UUP.
    FST is “lost”

  • FitzjamesHorse

    By the way An Phoblacht Abu, if youre still in West Tyrone Id appreciate your view on the SDLP there at the moment. I appreciate that your views are not pro SDLP but how do you see it there?

  • The Original Sam Maguire

    FJH, as someone on the ground, I’ll give you my tuppence on the SDLP in WT.

    A shambles from top to bottom. Leaderless, clueless and unmotivated. Activists that don’t know the meaning of the word. It may be a simple thing, but I could literally count the amount of SDLP posters I’ve seen in the rural parts of the constituency post ‘Stalingrad’ on my fingers and toes.

    However, much of the blame of the collapse of the SDLP in the area is attributed to the ‘Stalingrad’ statement in 2001. I would disagree wholeheartedly. The wheels were already in motion from the election of Willie Thompson in 97. Terence Brogan and Barry McElduff both won by-elections in the subsequent period by huge, huge margins.

    Brogan, increased the SF vote by 6 percent to 53% in Mid Tyrone in 98 with more or less all of it coming from the SDLP. Fair enough, Mid Tyrone was always traditionally one of SF’s stronger areas in the 6 counties, but that kind of jump within 1 year of the council elections and within weeks of the Agreement was noteworthy.

    McElduff almost doubled the SF percentage vote in the 2000 by-election in the West Tyrone ward of WT. This may have been the catalyst for Rodgers being parachuted IN but at that stage the momentum was well and truly with SF.

    Doherty in 97 was a misstep from SF because at the time no-one in the constituency knew who he was. He may have been SF VP but very few people outside SF would have knew that, even the so called constituency pundits. Byrne had something of a profile and could perhaps have taken the seat. However, looking at the bigger picture SF still had a larger number of votes than the SDLP in the council elections in 97 in both Strabane and Omagh. That should have put them in poll position for the seat from a Nationalist perspective, but the combined Unionist vote outpolled both Nationalist parties – in the GE and in the local council elections.

    Perhaps it was unforeseeable because the constituency was in its infancy, but a perfect example of how to slip into a house and squat there with great effect for a few years.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Yes “prolly” is apparently Internet slang for “probably” and although I deplore Internet slang, I use “prolly” because it is two letters shorter than “probably” and typing “probably” takes me considerably longer than typing “prolly” and as a consequence I try and avoid “probably”.

    On the other hand you drawing attention to it has caused me to type “prolly” and “probably probably or prolly more often than I am realy comfortable with.

    Ooops I ended a sentence in a poposition. I hate that. But prolly nobody noticed. 🙂

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Given that Ferghal McKinney is unemployed, becoming active in politics seems not only like legitimate gainful employment but also a role for which he is qualified.
    He must have interviewed enough politicians to think “I could do better”.
    So fair play to him.
    “Brendan” who you identify as SDLP is in fact spot on.
    Especially the bit where he agreed with me that an unofficial pact (prolly) will exist in FST between DUP and UUP.
    Sinn Féin will of course deplore the SDLP standing as vote splitting…seemingly unaware Alex Maskey will be making life harder for SDLP in South Belfast.
    The real fault of course should be taken by DUP NOT standing rather than SDLP standing.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    The OriginalSamMaguire,
    Thank you for your input.
    People who I have spoken to from tha neck of the woods tell me that 2007 (not taking an Assembly seat) was the lowest point …that things can only get better. But my own view is that West Tyrone (even before its setting up as a new constituency) was an SDLP black spot.
    I dont think its entirely explained by Republican heartland in and around Carrickmore.
    Ive since been told that Joe Byrne is the SDLP candidate for Westminster.
    If true…that surprises me.
    I would have thought that a new generation (Deehan) was vital.

  • The Original Sam Maguire

    Perhaps FH and perhaps 2007 was indeed the darkest day for the SDLP from a WT point of view. I wouldn’t be sure. I would have serious reservations about whether or not the votes that were lent to Deeney in 03/05/07 will return to the fold when (if?) he exits the stage.

    As for the Byrne vs Deehan aspect, what you hear is correct, it was reported in the Tyrone Herald on Monday. I would question whether the acrimony that existed within the party during the 2007 campaign has re-emerged? It was alleged at the time that some members of the ‘other camp’ within the party were unable to hide their delight when it was revealed that Deehan wasn’t going to gain the final seat from Deeney.

  • brendan

    West Tyrone is a real test for the new leadership of the SDLP. Will they again literally toss away an Assembly seat through poor vote management / canddiate selection?

    Allowing Joe Byrne to go forward for Westminster is a poor start to the the new leadership’s impact in west Tyrone. Hope I am wrong.

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    Great to see some ‘big names’ join the SDLP and UUP. Without doubt, both candidates should do well. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ferghal picked up a few votes from ‘unionist’ voters in tyrone lol.

  • granni trixie

    “The Prolly Game” has possibilities as the new Scrabble for people who can only spell in phone texting lingo.
    Go 4 it.

  • An Phoblacht Abu

    FJH, im most of the time in Belfast these days but im still in West Tyrone weekends as such and still register to vote there. The SDLP as an organisation doesnt exist in West Tyrone, in the last council elections in Strabane they had to turn to non-party members to stand in there name as they couldnt find enough members to fill the slots (Fred Henry, RIP, stood for the SDLP party even though he didnt even support the party and didnt seriously intend to win)
    As for Omagh im not sure but i doubt its any better.
    Provisional Sinn Fein could run a dead pig wrapped in a tri-colour and still win West Tyrone.
    P.s i vote for Dr Deeny

  • FitzjamesHorse

    I think you are right.
    Joe Byrne is a person I have met a couple of times (matters unrelated to Politics) but of course I did know of his involvement in SDLP. Struck me as decent but dull.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    granni trixie…..I can truthfully claim I have never sent a text in my life. And never will.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    That is the impression Ive always had from West Tyrone. Joe Byrne (and to a lesser extent McMenamin) is the only SDLP person to really emerge in West Tyrone.
    Most other constituencies have had or still have the advantage of a big name…Hume, Mallon, Rodgers, McGrady…or even a lesser but popular local name (Farren, O’Loan, Gallagher, Dallatt)who was/is a “safe pair of hands”.
    From the very back of my brain, I recall a reasonable Alliance presence in Omagh….in the shape of a local doctor in the 1970s. Ive forgotten his name. apologies.
    I have always assumed that Deeney was related to an Alliance member based in Belfast in 1980s. Possibly a coincidence. I know hes informally linked to AP but I noted last time that his rosette colour is yellow.

    On reflection Ferghal McKinney might have been a bette bet for West Tyrone. Not a winner in May but at least a sur thing for Stormont.
    And as SDLP have a safe quota in FST that would actually be a “gain”

  • granni trixie

    FJH: Present Deeney MLA no relation to Alliance Deeneys (which includes Fionulla Cook,
    Donal Deeney (now a judge, grist to your mill).
    You are correct re Omagh – have forgotten the Omagh Alliance doctor’s name but do remember that his daughter Ann followed after him (his name is sure to come to mind sometime).

    BTW:why not be thrifty? I restrict mobile phone use to a minimum (only 2 people have my number, that helps) but texting is v. cheap and convenient and the shorthand language is fun.
    Feel the fear and do it anyway?.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    granni trixie,
    Didnt know Fionnuala Cook was one of the Deeneys.
    No trouble with Donal being a judge…Ive a strange feeling that Alaban Magennis will be Lord Chief Justice in a few years.
    Strangely this is about the fifth time Ive thrown that one out and none of the SDLP folks have got back at me saying “theres no such deal”. Hmmm.

    Was LAGAN the name? Was toying with saying LARKIN earlier but LAGAN came to me while watching Coronat…….er came to me when I was doing something meaningful and constructive.

    I think the name was Adrian or Aiden Lagan….as I was probably onfused with Adrian or Aiden larkin from the Loup who wasa SDLP MLA in 1973.
    Presumably they were next to each other on the ballot paper. In 1973 did party names feature on ballot?
    If I recall correctly Dr Lagan was actually Chair of Omagh Council.
    The Anne youre thinking of is maybe Anne Gormley who was a daughter of Nationalist MP (Tom??) Gormley in old Stormont. I think he joined AP when it was formed.
    His brother Paddy (or was it Tom) also sat in Stormont for Mid Derry.

  • Medillen

    Youse older people are a mindful of information, no ageism intended, but amazing to read.

  • granni trixie

    You’ve got it! Ann Gormley was an Alliance Councillor,following her (NATIONALIST) father who was an APNI.

    Ha got your there – this evidence supports my oft made assertion about the diversity in Alliance.

    Very surprised at your expectation that AMcG would be LCJ as it demonstrates that you are ignorant as to how the system works (no insult to either of you). But then you cant know everything, get over it.

  • granni trixie

    You’ve got it! Ann Gormley was an Alliance Councillor,following her (NATIONALIST) father who was an APNI.

    Ha got your there – this evidence supports my oft made assertion about the diversity in Alliance.

    Very surprised at your expectation that AMcG would be LCJ as it demonstrates that you are ignorant as to how the system works (no insult to either of you). But then you cant know everything, get over it.

  • granni trixie

    So good I said it twice!

  • FitzjamesHorse

    and I read it twice thinking two people got it.
    Oh part of my Lord Chief Justice thing is just to irritate SDLP people (dont tell them) but I still think I have a point. I mentioned this around Christmas to a person I fully expected to go “not at all” and she just kinda “took a reddener”.
    I just offer these facts that Alban is not exactly at the coalface the way he once was. Hes not actually ever gonna be an MP or an Executive Minister (although who knows what will happen if Ritchie has to give it up).
    Hes more often to be found these days doing all that Artsy thing he loves.
    So I kinda expect theres something good gonna happen for him. Speaker of Assembly???
    And I think there will be compensation to SDLP in respect of the Ford thing.
    And yes AP was certainly diverse…..Reggie Donnelly, Mary Smyth, Tom Donnelly among others. Attracting Gormley, P O’Neill, Tom Caldwell & Robin Bailey. I wouldnt deny that.

    its a condition of Life that the young look forward, the old look back……and the middle aged look around.
    But seriously I tend to regard everything before I was born as “history”. “Politics” is after I was born.
    Thus these figures who are mere footnotes to you (hope this is not patronising btw as its not my intention) are actually very much real to me.
    And to be even more serious….politics tends to repeat itself. There are few things that can genuinely surprise me.
    Thus (here comes the patronising bit LOL) when I hear young ‘uns go on about the latest screw up …..I just think seen it all before.

  • The Original Sam Maguire

    I wouldn’t have the experience of some of the posters here, but in my time Alliance were always a fringe party in Omagh town, and in the outlying areas non-existent. I was gobsmacked to learn that Alliance had a councillor in the Strabane district in the late 80s after picking up 2.5% of first preference votes in the Glenelly ward!

    Fitzjames’ comment about lack of SDLP talent to emerge from WT – no doubt it was slim pickings for quite a fews years. But there was little need for anyone to be advanced with Dennis Haughey dominating the party in the old Mid Ulster area during the McCrea years.

    As for Dr Deeney – while he drew on a high level of cross community support for the GE in 05, the vast majority of his unionist voters returned to base in 2007 when the hospital issue was a dead duck.

    But I wouldn’t be surprised if he had been approached by his ‘home’ constituency colleague about making the jump from Independent Community Candidate into what would be a seemingly more natural home for him in the SDLP. There were certainly sections of the SDLP that actively canvassed for him in 2005, it would seal the deal for an assembly seat in the constituency and it gives the SDLP someone with a high profile rather than the journeymen they have currently in West Tyrone. It certainly would be much easier than trying to restart the groundwork from scratch, particularly when the percentage vote in the constituency will, at best, stay static with Byrne.

    On a side note, I only got around to watching the Spotlight policing and justice special there recently on iplayer. Attwood made a comment to that the SDLP would return 3 seats, possibly 4 in the GE – surely he can’t be deluding himself into thinking that McKinney has even a punchers chance in FST?

  • granni trixie

    I could go with Alban as Speaker. But as you inmply he has not worked his way up to even being considered as LCJ. On a linked matter, I was amazed at the apparent acceptance of the non system for appointing an Attorney General (no insult intended to the beneficary).

    6 above: The Prolly Game could take off like in Shaws Pygmalion ie “the new small talk”

    Yipee – today is fish day (St George’s).

  • brendan

    Lets face it Alex is not going to limit the SDLP’s ambition to simply retaining the 3 seats it has – even though in itself that would be quite an achievement for the party and a foothold for the new leadership team – so of course he will publicly predict Feargal to win FST.

  • Medillen

    Poor Alex is so self deluded, Brendan, that I would not be surprised if he was refering to himself taking the West Belfast seat.

  • Kevin Breslin


    Maskey could take West Belfast in a heartbeat … if Gerry Adams let him have it.

  • I assume you are referring to Alex Attwood, as I was, not alex maskey after todays developments.

  • Mick Fealty

    This is a new feature of the site, but if you want to reply to someone directly then hit the link in the bottom of their comment.

  • lougherne

    Is there anyone listening in the SDLP leadership? Why will they not put the rights of people before the fortunes of their party? If Ferghal can wait this long for a new career in politics then surely he can hold his water for another day. Surely he does not want to serve the Orange Order’s agenda. If the SDLP fail to heed the need of the people of Fermanagh South Tyrone, they’ll lose all honour.

  • Salem

    The SDLP are serving any ones agenda – SDLP are strong and standing up for all the people of FST ! They will not participate any pact with Sinn Fein or any other party.

    It is Sinn Fein that are frightened by the Unionist Candidate.

    If their ghost MP has done such a good job representing the people of FST – then why cant she come out and convince the people to vote for her ?

  • Salem

    ooops – I meant SDLP *arent* serving any ones agenda !

  • After watching the Politics Show on Sunday past, McKinney really needs to tone down the sound bites and gain substance.
    The only journalist who deserves any credit for standing is Eamonn McCann for the People before Profit Party.

  • madraj55

    Wabbits, it has the added benefit for nats of increasing the overall nats voting bloc, to have the competition.

  • An Phoblacht Abu

    McCann, more of Ego before Politics than anything else, if smugness were a fuel we would be the middle east !!!

  • Brian MacAodh

    The northernmost point in Ireland is not within Northern Ireland

  • kells

    To replace Iris in the Robinson bed would be a better crack!