Fermanagh South Tyrone goes absolutely to the wire

I am hearing from the count for Fermanagh South Tyrone that the SDLP vote has collapsed and that for ages Michelle Gildernew was ahead. However, at the end Rodney Connor pulled back and finished 8 votes ahead. Sinn Fein entirely reasonably has demanded a recount. Update: recount Sinn Fein 2 ahead Further update: counting suspended until morning, Sinn Fein seeking legal advice. It seems to all come down to interpretations about the doubtful ballots.

  • G O’Neill

    Unlikely that a recount will make much difference. Margerat Ritche should come to Fermanagh South tryone and explain to the Nationalist people how she allowed this seat to be lost. The SDLP are now finished in FST – roll on the assembly elections because Feargal McKinney is now public enemy number 1.

  • Eire32

    Unbelievable, Sinn Fein ahead by two votes apparently! Does not get much closer, good craic!

  • Paddy

    This will end up in the courts

  • Simon

    Two elections in the past for Westminster were won by 2 seats. A court case may not be feasible. It is first past the post after all. There are no provisos.

  • Red Kangaroo

    Damm, what a choice a lazy shinner or a tory

  • Justin Moran

    Now Michelle by 10 according to the BBC. New recount figures expected at half four.

  • Eire32

    Ten votes know, could be a recount in the morn.

  • Hedley Lamarr

    3rd recount later

  • Hedley Lamarr

    Apparently if the request by a candidate for a recount is dismissed because the request is not a reasonable one the last count/recount stands. However, in a close result like this where there are three different close counts demands for a recount would seem reasonable. If after many counts the result remains the same a demand for a recount would be unreasonable.

  • Munsterview

    Yep!, this seems to be heading their Lordships way. Hanging Chads anyone?

  • Mick O’Kelly

    if it goes to a run off Michelle will take the seat.

  • Red Kangaroo

    What is a run off?? Don’t think they have such a thing in the UK. Funny S/F are so concerned about a seat in a foreign parliament that they can’t ever bother to attend. But then again never stand between a shinner and a bucket of money. Shame that whatever happens in FST the Tories will be happy. Conner = true Tory, Gildernew Green = Tory. Yawn

  • Red Kangaroo

    should be = green Tory

  • Macanna

    There there red dry your eyes, there is still time for you to get the result you want., though I hope not.

  • iCare

    Red – you are talking rubbish. I hope you don’t get the result you want!

  • Robert Ross

    If Gildernew gets in again it will be a flippin’ disgrace. I don’t personally like Connor but I want to have an MP that represents me and my constituency in parliament. Grow up SF, move with the times, take your seats and do your job for us.

  • Dukeofa

    Whatever the result this is a sad reflection on Unionism in this constituency. Fielding a united candidate and they still can have a decisive victory! And I don’t think it was because Geryy Adams said that MG was a working mother 20,000 on the campaign either.

  • Dukeofa

    Whatever the result this is a sad reflection on Unionism in this constituency. Fielding a united candidate and they still can’t have a decisive victory! And I don’t think it was because Gerry Adams said that MG was a working mother 20,000 on the campaign either.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    ‘Sinn Fein entirely reasonably demanded a recount’

    I know it was a long night but one has to hope that Turgon is not going all mellow in his old age.

  • Fretjumper

    Do you think Ferghal will get his job back at UTV?

  • Rory Carr

    The SDLP had better pray that Michelle Gildernew scrapes home to victory here for, were she to lose by a tiny margin of votes, the nationalist community as a whole will blame the SDLP for not responding to Sinn Féin’s generous and practical offer to stand aside in South Belfast and seek SDLP repricocity in FST.

    The possibilty/likekiehood of a hung parliament at Westminster perhaps demonstrates best the reasons behind Sinn Féin’s principled abstention – an Irish nationalist party which rejects the right of a foreign power (Britain) to interfere in the running of Ireland can then hardly put itself in a position where their own tiny numbers are able to dictate the outcome of British governance. Strangely enough the British electorate might not be very happy that NI parties most loyal to the concept of British rule in Ireland now find themselves in that very position and indeed might be very cross if they find that the DUP are to decide the colour of the next government.

  • SDLP were well and truly trounced in FST. Sinn Fein were content with their strategy all round. Looked good from their point of view. They can claim that their strategy was vindicated by the electorate.

    They took so much of the 1st time nationalist vote and a huge chunk of the ordinary nationalist vote too.

    Judicial Review is likely with postal votes being a key area of contention.

  • Little James

    I cant quite understand the need for SF to gain this seat as if they do get it their electorate will not be represented in Westminster.

  • JR

    Good man, Blame the Sdlp for not forming a pact instead of the Unionsist parties for forming one. Everyone who voted SDLP in FST knew what they were doing.

  • daisy

    No surprise that SDLP vote collapsed in FST, but since they’ve managed to retain 3 seats it would appear that nationalists have decided not to punish them too severly for their impudence. They may well never poll well again in FST, but so what?

  • rodney by name

    i understand sf watched over the resealed boxes worried that funny business might be at play. I understand if it goes to a tie – it becomes a toss of the coin.

  • johnno

    Daisy, the SDLP got Maskey’s votes in South Belfast – a fact which McDonnell has, so far, seemed unwilling to acknowledge. Durkan got loyalist votes in Derry as did Ritchie in Stoop-Land. The real ‘punishment’ will come in the Assembly election. There’s talk of a SF campaign to instruct their voters to give their 2nd and 3rd preference votes to anyone but the SDLP. SDLP voters rarely give their 2nd preferences to SF etc. Cue the SDLP losing a massive number of MLAs. There’s real anger in North Belfast also. What was the point of Alban Maginnes standing there apart from securing Dodds The SuperProd’s seat? Well? Revenge is a dish best eaten cold, and Margaret’s plate will need defrosting. Would you wanna be an SDLP MLA candidate anywhere west of the Bann next year? lol

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Anybody seen the % turnout abd party share?

  • Ardmhacha

    Daisy, the sdlp retained 2 of those seats because unionists vote to keep SF out.

    Who in there right mind would vote for MR

  • Lionel Hutz

    SDLP can also claim their strategy worked. The fact is that had they withdrawn McKinney, McDonnell’s much needed cross-community credentials would have been destroyed, unionists would have united in South Belfast and almost certainly mcdonnell would have lost it’s seat. Worst case scenario for nationalism was having mcdonnell and Connor instead of gildernew and spratt. As it turned out McDonnell gets a huge majority and Michelle might sneak it.

    Fair play to SF for pulling Maskey. Cute move.

  • slug

    Its interesting that the SDLP have in fact had a good election. They survived in 2005 and today have more than survived – they seem to be turning a corner.

    The leadership of Margaret Ritchie looks somewhat more exciting and combative than that of Durkan. There is something perhaps Naomi-Long-like about her (aside from being a woman which seems to be a positive these days in NI!).

    So many were expecting an SDLP collapse, claiming her TV performances were dire.

    I – almost alone – on this forum thought they were much too over-critical of these TV performances.

    The SDLP result today is something that will give Ritchie some confidence and self assurance and so I think things look positive for the SDLP after so many years of decline.

  • Jim

    What do you want a medal? Nobody cares what you said.

  • Sean Og

    [i]I – almost alone – on this forum thought they were much too over-critical of these TV performances.[/i]

    You were wrong. The performances were dreedfull they just didn’t have any impact in South Down.

    I still think the SDLP would be better off under McDonnell. Ritchie is a light weight and always will be.

  • The Original Sam Maguire

    The SDLP had a good election in the areas were they have been traditionally strong. Outside of South Belfast, Derry and South Down it takesmore than a fair bit of spin to say they’re ‘turning the corner’.

  • Sammy Morse

    There isn’t such a thing as a run-off per se, but look at what happened in Winchester in 1997. It’s possible this will be rerun.

  • billy

    Any word from F & ST recount?

  • Carnlough Yin

    I think the SDLP have been damaged in this election. They kept their distance from the shinners in Foyle and SD but benefitted from Maskey’s decision to stand down in SB. The Nationalist electorate also seems to have punished them in UB, WT, MidU, NB and EL. It may be difficult for them to reverse the trends in these areas. Sinn Fein also surged clear in North and South Antrim and most surprisingly gained more votes than the SDLP in East Antrim. Many of their votes that were lost in FST may never be returned.

  • Michaelhenry

    u.u.p torys get the boot in IRELAND, the d.u.p tory to get the boot in fermanagh south tyrone, tory wasters are not allowed a seat in IRELAND, may the GAELS be blessed.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Indeed might be very cross if they find that the DUP are to decide the colour of the next government.’

    So what are the real options

    Pros and Cons

    Tory /Lib Dem coalition

    Will Tories accept electoral reform as the price ? A grab for short term power at the expence of probable long term opposition status with little chance of ever forming a Tory majority government ?

    Will Brown cobble together a Labour LIb Dem coalition with support from 13 of the 18 NI , MP’s (SF’s 5 abstaining ) plus Scots and Welsh nationalists and 1 Green ?

    Brown could hobble along with that lot for a couple of years until the UK emerges safely from this crisis .

    It’s really up to Clegg . He should surely have learned from this election that the present electoral system of FPTP will always underepresent liberal dem voters .

    Will Cameron hold back on any electoral reform and hope that a new Labour coalition will collapse soon enough and thus win convincingly next time ?

    If Brown were to succeed in cobbling together a Government of ‘national unity’ it would make an interesting geographical picture .

    The so called Celtic fringe Scotland , Wales , plus Northern Ireland plus London plus Liberal enclaves in the south west and west all lined up against the English heartland of the south . east and south east of England ?

    Roughly those areas to the North of the Wash to Bristol Channel line i.e (poorer Britain ) versus (better off Britain )

    This of course could annoy English taxpayers so much that if the Tories did get back after a Lab Lib Dem early collapse before PR could be enacted then the so called Celtic fringe with or without any UCUNF could expect no mercies .

    Meanwhile world markets plus currency speculators international are gathering around the pound and slavering at the prospects of lengthy indecision and mega profits .
    Will Brown move first or has he already prepared his offering to the Lib Dems .

    A pivotal moment if ever there was one . Clegg has to be disappointed but which way to go . To reject Cameron’s advances assuming there will be one could backfire quickly in the next election . Gordon Brown has the right to make the first attempt to form a new government despite the loss of seats .

    Who can the Tories look to for their 20 seats needed ?

    From here it looks like they have only one choice i.e the Lib Dems . I’m not sure if the DUP’s 8 will cut it even with SF abstention .

    A conundrum for all parties .

  • johnno

    Fergal McKinney – the shortest political career in Irish history?

  • Cushy Glenn

    ….er, shome mishtake shurely
    racism in republican politics !!!

  • Niall

    The Belfast Telegraph have called the seat to Connor. Not directly, but they have refered to Gildernew as “the outgoing MP”. Surely a bit presumptious given that the rest of us, including the candidates and their respective legal advisors probably won’t know who will be the MP even after the returning officer has announced the result.See paragraph 18:
    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/politics/election/article14797066.ece;jsessionid=41D01429B834541105178D5F46B6E213?postingType=posting&mode=thanks&postingId=14798921

  • Kevin Bell

    I think for the first time the SDLP can be accurately described as the South Down and Londonderry Party. Decimated everywhere else bar SB.

  • Congal Claen

    The RoI has been the last bastion of Thatcher Britain in the British Isles. Tory in everything but name, dressed up as little Irelanders. Republicanism is Cromwell for the really slow learners. Once the Euro collapses we’ll welcome back the prodigal Irish back to the British fold.

  • Justin Moran

    Unconfirmed report that the Michelle is five ahead and a new recount is being sought. Anyone heard?

  • Mark McGregor

    I’m wondering if the 36 additonal votes are sample ballot papers that always amke way into boxes and already accounted for in invalid votes.

  • Michaelhenry

    its not up to you, its up the people of the 32 counties.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Is there no media there at all. I’ve heard nothing and I’m in Omagh

  • JohnM

    Yeah hearing the lead of 5 now. If that is 3 recounts in a row she has won, surely it is time to call it? (says he, hoping)

  • Michaelhenry

    tory helpers who have never took part in a election in f.s.t before are to blame, they thought they could get away with hookey votes.

  • Mark McGregor

    Unproven. I’ve asked if they are sample ballots and already accounted for as invalid.

  • Seosamh913

    Do the candidates themselves or their agents get to see any disputed ballots that a call has been made on (“the x is for me, not for him”) ?

  • Mark McGregor

    Aldous calling Gildernew win by 4.

  • Justin Moran

    @ Mark, is there going to be another recount?

    @ Seosamh, yeah the candidate or a designated agent sees the spoils.

  • Michaelhenry

    sweet jesus.

  • Justin Moran

    Hearing a recount has been refused. SF hold by four votes. Comfortable enough in the end.

  • JohnM

    Well done Michelle – great result if confirmed (which I think it has)

  • Neil

    Excellent news. Good to see the Northern Irish electorate reject the Tories in their droves. Reg was death for the UUs, people should have been more suspicious of someone who was bending over backwards to pact with any and everyone he could get his hands on.

  • Down South

    Very comfortable. 😉

  • Neil

    Confirmed on BBC

  • Neil

    Confirmed on BBC

  • abucs

    Well done Michelle. Very Unlucky Rodney.

  • abucs

    Well done Michelle. Very Unlucky Rodney.

    Equal number of seats each now for Nationalists and Unionists.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Brilliant, anyone got the final numbers

  • abucs

    Michelle Gildernew Sinn Fein 21,304 45.5 %
    Rodney Connor Independent 21,300 45.5%
    Fearghal McKinney Social Democratic & Labour Party 3,574 7.6 %
    Vasundhara Kamble Alliance Party 437 0.9 %
    John Stevenson Independent 188 0.4 %

  • Lionel Hutz

    Turnout drops particular in Unionism. SDLP vote down by over a half and 80% of that goes to Michelle. Where now for SDLP in FST and where now for Unionism generally. Assuming double jobbing does end in the DUP, are there any big hitters left?

  • abucs

    Perhaps SDLP should look to lock in their 3 seats by coming to an arrangement with SF and agreeing not to stand in F & ST, North Belfast and Upper Bann ?

    SDLP need to rebuild from a solid base, not one that is under constant threat IMHO.

    What do you think ?

  • Greenflag

    That may happen if the UUP rump and TUV remnants are absorbed by the DUP with some of the UUP ‘moderates ‘ perhaps siphoning off to Alliance . It’s probably the only short term strategy for nationalist /republicans to winning a majority of the NI representation at Westminster . But with SF abstaining that would probably make a mockery of any such effort .

  • Red Kangaroo

    ‘The SDLP had better pray that Michelle Gildernew scrapes home to victory here for, were she to lose by a tiny margin of votes, the nationalist community as a whole will blame the SDLP for not responding to Sinn Féin’s generous and practical offer to stand aside in South Belfast and seek SDLP repricocity in FST.”

    Yawn.. What are you going to do?? Bomb us??

    “Perhaps SDLP should look to lock in their 3 seats by coming to an arrangement with SF and agreeing not to stand in F & ST, North Belfast and Upper Bann ?”

    You Shinners are real slow learners. The SDLP does not care about you winning seats for the tribe. The SDLP is about moving forward.

    The only urban seat you can win is West Belfast, God you can’t even win Derry.

    Does that eman the shnners are the real Fianna Fail of the north? Well we know they sell out just as quickly.

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    Fair play to SF they threw everything at FST and got their vote out in superb fashion. The Tory link won’t have helped Rodney but the bottom line is SF moved a mountain and deserve credit.

    FST is one of three warning shots over Unionism’s bows — the other two being Robbo’s defeat and the SF rolling threat in North Belfast. The farcical UCUNF failure and South Belfast were manifestly predictable but overall, other than a decent showing for the DUP outside of EB and the fizzling out of the TUV, it was grim night for Unionism.

    The real joke is that SF effectively lost the war, signed up to partition and sold out on decommissioning yet have been able to successfully portray failure as victory. Unionism meanwhile secured the union, neutered the provos and humbled SF, yet act as if the end is nigh.

    The Unionist electorate are staying at home in droves and there’s a reason for that. Their leaders are split, bitter, visionless and rudderless.

    From this near disaster of an election, Unionism HAS to emerge with new, positive and above all realistic leadership.

    The kiddy squabbling needs to end, the bogey-man of SF needs to be worked with rather than demonised and real bread and bread issues need to be addressed.

    SF aren’t getting their vote out at the barrel of a gun — they’re working hard on the ground with their communities, engaging with people and winning respect. Most realise that a UI is decades away, but SF are relevant and vibrant whereas Unionism as it stands quite simply isn’t. It will take a while to catch up mindset-wise, but the rejection of the TUV dinosaur is a major plus — Unionism CAN move forward and my personal vote is for Arlene Foster to lead it.

  • Seosamh913

    Red Kangaoroo

    I’ve heard this “we’re moving” forward line a lot from the SDLP of late; can you explain what it actually means as I’m struggling to grasp where they’re moving forward to, what that place might look like and why I should care or be interested ?

  • abucs

    Big Red,

    There continues to be a constant drift away from the SDLP to Sinn Fein across most of NI from election to election.

    You should be careful that it’s not the ‘slow learners’ that will inherit the nationalist electorate.

  • Rory Carr

    Yawn.. What are you going to do?? Bomb us??

    Don’t be crass, Red Kangaroo. No need to bomb you, Sinn Féin have already blown you out of the water at the ballot box. It might be best if your little party of shopkeepers (to paraphrase that bad English translation of Napoleon’s opinion of the English) went back to store-keeping and televison presenting and left political representation of nationalism to those best fitted to carry it forward.

    One thing’s for sure – the SDLP name is forever mud in Fermanagh & South Tyrone.

  • abucs

    Yeah, the abstaining is an obstacle for SDLP agreement.

    You might be right with the break up of whatever people want to call the UUP these days. They haven’t really got any leverage to negotiate anything as far as the Westminster electons go. They’ve got nothing to offer the Tories and nothing to offer the DUP apart from their capitulation.

    If they want to exist as a serious NI Party they will have to concenrate on fighting the DUP and winning at least two seats (SA and UB) but that is another 5 years way. Will they make it that far ?

  • Red Kangaroo

    “It might be best if your little party of shopkeepers (to paraphrase that bad English translation of Napoleon’s opinion of the English) went back to store-keeping and televison presenting and left political representation of nationalism to those best fitted to carry it forward.”

    Rory in the modern world political representation means you show up and vote on issues.. You have a say. I would be happy for S/F to win if I thought they would go to parliament and vote on our behalf. Having said that I am also glad Connor didn’t win because it takes one more vote from the Tories.

    S/F needs to grow up and represent the people then perhaps they could be a real voice.

  • Seosamh913

    Red Kangaroo

    Is there dependable evidence which supports the view that formally taking a seat at Westminster per se necessarily yields benefits to constituents within NI ?

  • Brookman

    A canny assessment of unionism. SF are working their tiny butts off in the community. They have a long term vision and are patient enough to slog away until it is achieved. Meanwhile Unionism has descended to the level of Corporal Jones running around shouting dont panic and looking back to the times when the fuzz wuzzies didnt like it up em. They didnt like it up em you know…. Totally and utterly ineffective leadership. Where is the vision for without vision the people die…….

  • joeCanuck

    I think that’s a silly question. The same can be asked of any region. If the answer is no, then do away with parliament.

  • joeCanuck

    Likely true, Rory, but the SDLP were put in a no win situation, damned if they stood aside, damned if they didn’t.
    I think they were right to face down the naked sectarianism of the DUP and (new force ha ha) Conservative Unionists and not give in. Next time they may be smarter and not nominate a candidate when they have absolutely no chance of winning.

  • Seosamh – the experience of the Bloc Quebecois would say “Oui”. Keeping them happy means shovelling billions into the Quebec economy, not to mention them cashing their govt of canada paycheques with not an ounce of shame.

    Remember – abstentionist MPs make Dave Cameron’s life easier because he inches closer to a majority.

  • Seosamh913

    Not very persuasive evidence, I must say. Is there any evidence correlating time spent in London by non-abstentionist MPs to tangible constituency benefits for the NI electorate ?

  • wee buns

    ‘The real joke is that SF effectively lost the war, signed up to partition and sold out on decommissioning yet have been able to successfully portray failure as victory. Unionism meanwhile secured the union, neutered the provos and humbled SF, yet act as if the end is nigh.’

    Nicely summed up.

  • Henry94

    He’ll have a comfortable majority with the LibDems. If that doesn’t work out there will be another election within months. The only scenario that could have made abstention an issue was a Tory government relying on the DUP.

  • madraj55

    Lionel Hutz. The fact that SF have now had the biggest share of vote in two elections running [Euros last year, now this] means the 1920 gerrymander is no longer working for unionists. They’ll never get FST, SB back now. It’s too late, and Gerry Kelly is coming up on the rails in N Belfast.

  • abucs

    I think it’s a good question Seosamh913. If you have 55 seats then maybe you’re taken semi seriously in national policy decisions by the government of the day, only because you might be needed sometime in the future. With only 5 (or 8) seats who really cares if you are there at parliament ayeing or naying ?

    Surely anything other than automatic funding for Northern Ireland goes through the Northern Ireland office who will take into consideration local politics and don’t care whether politicians make the journey to London or not.

    From the NI Office website :

    http://www.nio.gov.uk/

    The Northern Ireland Office is responsible for overseeing the Northern Ireland devolution settlement and representing Northern Ireland interests at UK Government level and UK Government interests in Northern Ireland.

    Unless you have an interest in being part of GB politics, why spend so much time over at Parliament anyway?

    It’s quite a good question to ask if the time is better spent speaking and working with local people and businesses in NI rather than being over in London.

    Makes you wonder who exactly are the absentee MP’s.

    (I’m sure someone will give me a smart answer to that).

  • Outsider

    No Unionist/Protestant in FST accepts this result, it is clear that more vote rigging from Sinn Fein has taken place.

  • ProtestantFST

    I’m a Protestant from FST and fully accept the result. I voted SDLP purely because I did not wished to be patronised into voting for someone merely on a unionist unity ticket. I can accept the result however. Outsider, you do not speak for all Protestants.

  • Robert Ross

    Speaking as someone who has grown up in a mainly Protestant/Unionist community in South Tyrone (translated into forum speak: I am part of the Orange manipulated, British, imperialist, superior, old school, arrogant, overlord driven war machine) It does amuse me that everyone who mentions something bilious about ‘orangism’ actually believes that the Orange order has such sway in today’s world! Is the Orange Order NI’s equivalent of the New World Order? Trust me, they aren’t – it’s sounds good if repeated enough and it’s always good to have a sound-bite to base a poster campaign around. I can see how from the other side of the fence this could all sound quite believable – we all remember those images form Drumcree – but this was simply Unionist parties co-operating to try and give their combined electorate something that they wanted. There was no bullying tactics used, no hidden agendas, all parties and candidates involved were in full agreement with what was happening. No big super-grand-master in a golden bowler hat was decreeing what would happen. In the end it didn’t work – damn close, but no cigar. There you go.

  • Scott

    Have to agree with Outsider; “No Unionist/Protestant in FST accepts this result, it is clear that more vote rigging from Sinn Fein has taken place.” We know that Sinn Fein have been involved in widescale vote rigging and it was confirmed by both Brendan Hughes (Former IRA Leader) and also Martin McGartland (British Agent Inside the IRA).