Independent Republican Cllrs Confirm as Candidates in 2011

This should make the 2011 local council election in Magherafelt interesting.  The Irish News reports today that

The brother of IRA hunger striker Francis Hughes has confirmed he will stand against Sinn Féin in next year’s local council elections.  Oliver Hughes sits on Magherafelt District Council as an independent republican representative for Moyola district after resigning in 2006 with former Sinn Féin colleague Patsy Groogan over what they described as “internal differences”.  Mr Groogan also confirmed he intends to stand as an independent candidate in the local elections.

When they resigned in 2006 Oliver Hughes stated

“Our reasons for resigning are the result of major domestic political difficulties within the republican movement in south Derry.

“All sides have agreed that we would not debate our difficulties in public.”

Perhaps they’ll get the opportunity to articulate those “difficulties” this time round?

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  • slug

    It’s a battle royal!

  • ulsterfan

    This is a non story.
    It will have no bearing outside Magherafelt.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    So…..four years ago this guy resigned from Sinn Féin and has been sitting as an Independent Councillor since then. And he is going to stand again for next years election.

    Surely thats not actually a story in the “dog bites man” tradition.
    The story would be “decided not to stand” like those six folks in Belfast.
    Cant have it both ways.

  • Drumlins Rock

    FJH, there is a a bit of a story here as there are quite a few former SF cllrs, and one MLA, scattered round the country, will they all stand again? considering STV does not play that well for independents on the fringes it is a ganble for them. Generally the electoral threat to SF from “disafected republicans” has not materialised into anything subtancial, but if enough stand it will be enough to ensure they have to watch both flanks when they go into battel with the SDLP.

  • oracle

    The story will be if he beats SF and holds the seat.. that’s the story

  • J Kelly

    D R are you serious after the weekend i dont see Gerry losing too much sleep over Mags and co.

  • Dec

    “This should make the 2011 local council election in Magherafelt interesting.”

    You should get out more.

  • redhugh78

    Is this not a regurgitated piece, that tlast sentence sounds very familiar?

  • redhugh78

    ‘last sentence’

  • pia_lugum

    The fact that W McCrea resigned from Magherafelt Council tonight should also make it very quiet election from the unionist perspective. Big Wesley Browne (who is already in place at tonight’s meeting – co-opted) is unlikely to cut much ice…..

  • lamhdearg

    Hughes is a legend in republican fokelore in the west. i know not his bro’s standing, at least we will get some understanding of non S.F. irish republican numbers.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Ah but is the decision of a very senior DUP figure resigning from Magherafelt Council actually a bigger story than an Independent nobody deciding to stand again?
    Personally I think it is.

  • drumcairnharp

    I have heard that the Armstrong(Billy and Sandra) family are trying to remove both the sitting UUP councillors in Magherafelt. Will be an interesting selection meeting.

  • pia_lugum


    It appears that Sandra Overend helped Shiels to dump Junkin last time for the compliant and virtually invisible Crawford.
    Crawford and Shiels subsequently scraped in to the Magherafelt council but together they have been very ineffective, to say the least. They have however, to their credit, been utterly fastidious in attending the annual pilgrimages to the Somme and elsewhere, regardless of the expense.
    It is therefore no surprise to most people around this town that Billy Armstrong and Sandra (now Overend) should orchestrate these men’s early demise from local politics. Even Tom Elliot to his credit is looking for much better quality representation – any leader would!
    The local association in Magherafelt is critically strapped for talent as that all left after Junkin and Seffon, etc. in 2005. Sandra Overend has stressed that the local party must select a woman for the assembly poll (i.e. Sandra Overend!) regardless of ability or capacity. I understand that Billy’s atrocious record viz-a-viz planning, building control and building rates have already left him unsuitable for Tom Elliot’s new vision. Billy only survived because of Reg Empey’s dithering. Males are positively excluded now in the Armstrong/Overend fiefdom! This means that Sandra cannot have the safety net of the lower-revenued council goal.
    I believe however that senior party members have been approaching influential people throughout Mid-Ulster in the last two weeks or so. It is hoped that a series of house visits and restuarant tete-a-tetes will lead to the revival of the local UUP with persons of ability ,drive and integrity before Jimbo herds them all into his camp. Perhaps there will be developments that will determine whose names actually appear on the ballot papers for both polls – and it might be uncomfortable for some….
    I would also point out that the Magherafelt DUP are also in diffs now that the McCrea dynasty has receded. The council reps there are in public display as being at the beck and call of SF. They have learned that they have to doff their caps to Oliver Hughes and the SF party to get the coveted council chairmanship. Whatever you might think of wee Willie, at least he stood his ground and dismissed the chair in favour of holding to his principles.
    When the Irish News said that this little backwater with the lowest rates, the lowest absenteeism and the best job creation records could have an interesting May council election, they underestimate just how interesting…..

  • drumcairnharp

    Pia Lugum
    Fully agree.A relative was at a P.T..A meeting and watched Sandra Overend become Chairperson. People were saying there must be an election coming for Sandra to put her name forward.
    Unless some “decent people” get a grip of the uup party in South Derry then it will be lost forever rather than just to the Armstrongs.