#AE11 Open Thread: Foyle (#FO11)…

Foyle is probably one of the last few places where there is still a significant and meaningful divide between ‘nationalist’ and ‘Republican’ in the local electorate. In 2005 Sinn Fein’s Westminster candidate, Mitchel McLaughlin predicted a significant win for himself. In the end he was sorely disappointed.

The clash between the SDLP and Sinn Fein will take place in what have been up to now been mutually exclusive electorates. As John has already noted the continuing candidacy of Eamonn McCann could make this one interesting, but in all likelihood we may have to look to the council results to detect any undercurrents in the sentiment of the Maiden City.

– Sammy Morse’s excellent 2007 profile

– Splintered Sunrise no less gifted profiles for Westminster last year

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  • As with a lot of constituencies, it is about five safe seats and a sixth that is in doubt.
    But there are more stories here than just Eamonn McCann. The most striking thing is UUPs abandonment of Derrys Walls. It doesnt care enough to offer its manifesto to its supporters and there was over 1,500 of them in 2007. Some will boost the Alliance Party candidate (McGrellis) but most will go to William Hay (DUP) and he will probably top the poll.
    Do those transfers go to Alliance and keep them in the race much longer than they would expect in Foyle.
    The “NUJ” vote in the city is split with the intervention of Paul McFadden. His platform seems full of the right things to say but he is no serious threat but will do his profile no harm.
    So theres a DUP seat, two SF seats (Martina Anderson is the only woman candidate)….and two safe SDLP seats. The tactic of running four candidates makes little sense to me.
    Yet all four offer something. One losing out is expected. Two losing out would produce a lot of soul searching over the 4 candidate strategy. There is no chance of all four winning so risking a seat seems bizarre.
    Eamonn McCann?
    A good way to start a row in Derry (and Ive tried most ways) is to throw the name Eamonn McCann out. Light blue touchpaper and retire. Works every time.
    A seat in the Assembly might be his pension plan and Elections always produce a story. Maybe the journalist is the story.
    But Im not sure that McCann actually wants to be elected. He has a record of standing in elections which he cant possibly win and a recoord of avoiding those he could win. He is a professional candidate rather than a professional politician. He enjoys campaigning and the month long round of interviews before polling day.
    Actually if he did win…..he would demand a recount.
    That sixth seat is between him and the third SDLP runner…and those Alliance transfers will likely tip the balance towards SDLP.

  • Nordie Northsider

    Very significant that the UUP won’t be standing Assembly candidates here. I loved Tom Elliot’s remark that they would have stood but couldn’t get their papers in on time. Oh, well that’s alright then.

  • “With pots and pans and aul tin cans……we will guard old Derrys Walls…and check the Translink web site to find out what time a bus passes the Electoral Office.”

  • The Word


    “There is no chance of all four winning so risking a seat seems bizarre.”

    When you factor everything into the equation, you’ll find that the SDLP are in a better position than that and, as for Sinn Fein, they’re not.

  • An Phoblacht Abu

    Eamonn McCann would love to be elected, the man loves nothing more than making long winded speeches that no one wants to listen too, stormont is his natural home

  • J Kelly

    The 6th seat in foyle is more open than these predictions. There is a real switch off from the SDLP candidates maybe not the party. They have three young and inexperienced “wee boys” standing and I believe McFadden and his supporters sense it. The five certs are Hay, Ramsey, Durkan, Anderson and McCartney. I cant see McCann in the mix at all come the end it will be between Eastwood, Callaghan and Fleming. If Paul Felming just misses my money would be on Eastwood to pip Callaghan.

    Mick is 100% the council elections will give more of an insight into Derry. The SDLP are weak and under pressure to fill slates in every area and i can see them losing at least two seats possibly three.

  • Barry the Blender

    If elected would Eamon McCann designate himself as a nationalist or other?

  • Council Elections will of course play a major part in the outcome of the Assembly seat.
    But it seems to me that both SDLP and Sinn Féin are playing safe and not actually expecting much change. Tactically they are both playing the “sweeper” system with one more candidate than seats held in each DEA.
    People Before Profit……their highest vote before rebranding from SEA was 5.6%. Curiously they are not standing in Shantallow…just like in 2005.
    And I just dont rate the IRSP who are only standing in two DEAs anyway.

  • Sam Maguire

    It’s looks like it’s every man for himself in Foyle amongst the SDLP candidates with little thought going into vote management – Pol Callaghan was first out of the blocks and I’ve seen his posters scattered throughout the city in the other candidates patches.

  • RyanAdams

    Not that familiar with Foyle, so ill not say much other than Colm Eastwood should get his seat with ease. He was mayor and one of the chief advocates for bringing City of culture to D’LD. That increased publicity should work to his advantage.

  • Backbencher

    Five of the seats here are as predictable as it is possible to be, 1DUP 2SF and 2 SDLP. The last seat should be between 3rd SDLP and McCann.
    McCann’s increased profile should keep him in the field longer than the last time and he should benefit from the SF surplus if he can outstay the 3rd SF runner. However SDLP should just have enough together with Unionist transferes to hold on.
    On the Unionist side the only story is the UUP failing to field. Does anyone buy the line about not getting the papers in on time? After the hospital decision they are fortunate they have any members left in the North West let alone candidates. Can’t understand what McGimpsey or his advisors were thinking when they called this move.

  • Its a strange decision.
    I dont buy the “too late with the nomination papers” line at all.
    Some months ago the UUP issued its list of candidates (some was later amended) and Foyle was the only constituency without a candidate.
    There has been no public announcement (so far as Im aware) of any candidate subsequently and its just bizarre that UUP ask us to believe that they were too late at arriving at the Electoral Office.

    I think they should have stood. Even if they lost two thirds of 1,500 votes it does a disservice to their members and supporters in the city.
    A lot of those votes will never come back.
    Votes are hard to win and easy to lose.

  • Carsons Cat

    Unionists in somewhere like Foyle will not only use their first pref votes, but transfers too to have an impact on the overall vote.

    The UUP were scrabbling around for a candidate for quite a while, and the Altnagelvin issue just put the “tin hat” on it ensuring that no-one was not only going to take an electoral mauling, but quite possibly risk physical danger of getting a thump from an extremely p*ssed off electorate.

    Seems also the TUV are content to let Wille Hay romp home as the sole unionist candidate in the field – meaning that Mr Speaker could potentially take upwards of 20% of the vote if most unionists come out to vote and then vote for a unionist.

    Whilst all good PR scholars know that transfers from someone who’s been elected don’t come at full value, there will still be some votes to come from Wille (presuming he’s elected) which can go to give someone else a boost.

    You’d have to presume those will be more than likely to go to the SDLP (on a purely least worst option basis) so giving them just an extra percentage point or two aganist SF in the race.

    Its just an extra wee edge that the shinners have to overcome in their long-time quest to overturn the stoops on the Foyle.

  • Carsons Cat

    Just noticed FJH’s comment at the top….

    What on earth is it with this eternal fascination with Alliance? Why believe that they’ll have any impact upon the election and seemingly giving them more importance than potential 6% surplus votes from Hay?

    I don’t actually think that unionists in Foyle will transfer to Alliance – they’ll just be seen as an irrelevance who aren’t going to get elected in a lifetime and they’ll go straight to the Stoops as that way they can have the biggest impact on the overall outcome of the election.

  • son of sam

    Sinn Fein seem to be going for their core vote at Assembly level with all their candidates having been guests of Her Majesty.They have some new interesting interesting candidates at council level: Cathy Nelis[ daughter of Mary] formally of Cunamh[funded counselling charity],Geraldine O Donnell[community worker] and Michael Cooper[tour guide].All re carefully nurtured [courtesy of Derry Journal] to suddenly metamorphise as S F hopefuls! F J H has already noted that the”N U J” vote is split.Mc Faddens reasons for standing are not obvious.Maybe life outside Radio Foyle is emptier than he thought with only one column per week to write for the Journal!His backers Garvan O Doherty and Conal Mc Feely seem to be strange bedfellows.As a successful businessman O Doherty will usually demand his pound of flesh and he is not known for backing losers.His motives may be more byzantine. The S D L P assembly runners are an interesting bunch and it would be a rash person who would confidently predict the outcome here.Pol Callaghan[as Mark Durkan M P s favourite political son]has built up his media profile since his elevation but maysuffer from a lack of voter recognition.Mark H Durkan will emphasise the Durkan brand and will not suffer from that.Colm Eastwood profile as Mayor will do him no harm at all.The veteran Pat Ramsay may yet surprise them and claim one of the coveted seats.There is still a lot to play for!

  • roadnottaken

    Ramsey’s supporters should turn out for him on the day. He seems to have been added by HQ qhen they realised that having no sitting and experienced MLA’s might allow SF that elusive third seat.. but will this be enough to save Ramsey himself?
    Can anyone tell me if the SDLP had a vote strategy last time? Im from the neighbouring East Derry and can’t recall if they did or not. Vote leakage might cause an issue in the final counts, and the fight for the final seat.
    The UUP are running scared, but I don’t really expect a massive Unionist turnout for Willie Hay, despite being widely respected. As too their representation on the Council, is Mary Hamilton running again, and can she survive?

  • Harry Flashman

    Good heavens Paul McFadden’s running for election! I’ve been away too long, anyone care to explain what that’s about?

  • In answer to “road nottaken” Mary Hamilton IS standing. DUP outvoted UUP by over 4:1 in the Waterside in 2005. So even bearing in mind that the DUP had the “Gregory Campbell Factor” in 2005, it doesnt look good for Ms Hamilton.

  • SonofSam,
    I think I heard that Paul McFadden had his own PR company. There will be a lot of PR work goingon in Derry over next few years.

  • CarsonsCat,
    I fully take the point about DUP transfers and Alliance Party.
    But in 2007 AP had less than 250 votes. (The Greens not standing this time had 350).
    That probably would have given the Alliance candidate about 400 plus votes to start off. Without a UUP candidate (1,700 votes in 2007) Id reckon UUP vote will go three ways……to DUP (mostly), AP (maybe 500) and the rest (a minority) staying at home.
    Hay was elected on first count last time and the loss of two wards in his “Rural” base should not affect him.
    Id expect the AP candidate Mr McGrellis to get around 1,000 votes and that keeps him in the race longer and those eliminated votes will be crucial. Only about 50%-60% will transfer and mostly to SDLP.

  • FuturePhysicist

    McCann’s transfers to push the third SDLPer over, and for that reason alone it may mean Eastwood ahead of Ramsey.

    Inter Sinn Féin contest to Flemming beat McCartney

    My tip:- Hay, Durkan, Callaghan, Eastwood, Anderson, Flemming.

  • J Kelly

    FP you are a mile out Pat Ramsey will be ok he won the election in the SDLP carve up. Colum Eastwood has the longtower school and Pol Callaghan has the Model school two strong areas for sinn fein but more importantly any SDLP vote in the Bogside and Brandywell will be for Pat Ramsey he was born and readed in this area and served as a councillor for over twenty years. Pol Callaghan is unknown and will lose no matter what there is no chance of four SDLP seats. Young Durkan will be safe with the name enough to carry him over the line.

    Martina Anderson and Raymond McCartney should be ok with the two guaranteed SF quotas.

    Willie Hay guaranteed and will top the poll.

    6th Seat
    A big battle, between Sinn Fein and the SDLP. Factors 1st preference votes, position after first prefernece votes, apathy from,as Mick called it in 2005 the Culmore Vote, towards the youthful and inexperienced SDLP slate, McCann and McFaddens votes and finally will the UUP vote come out.

    McCann will get his 2500 to 3000 votes and be too far off a quota with no real prospect of transfers. Paul McFadden will get 500 to 1500 max and these will go every which way imagineable.

    If Sinn Fein poll ahead in 1st preferences and Martina Anderson can stay on or just below a quota with Paul Fleming ahead of Pol Callaghan and Colum Eastwood he has a chance. Too hard to call in terms of who will finally be elected but I reckon if Sinn Fein can take the SDLP in first preference votes, then its all to play for.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Not only would Sinn Féin have to win the first preference votes they’d need to do it by at least a 5% margin to come anywhere near a sizable quota for 3, or with the vast bulk of McCann transfers. Neither seems likely.

    Here’s the maths:

    Three quotas is 3/7 = 42.9% of the vote

    Sinn Fein have 31.9% of the vote 3 quotas – 10.9%
    SDLP have 44.7% of the vote. 3 quotas +2.1%

    Just a little reminder.

    There’s more chance of the SDLP taking Sinn Féin’s 3rd seat in Newry & Armagh than Sinn Féin winning three here.

    Sinn Féin have 42.0% of the vote 3 quotas -0.86%
    SDLP have 23.4 2 quotas – 5.2%

    If the NIW problem hits Murphy hard, O’Hanlon could be in.

  • FuturePhysicist

    sorry, my bad SDLP +1.9%

    re-edited to ensure the 0.9% of the quota was included without correcting the SDLP version.