SF’s Deputy Speaker to run for Mid Ulster Westminster seat

So, the man who could never got the chance. I never really understood why Francie didn’t get the senior position in Stormont, but it looks like he’s off to Westminster next, as he has just been chosen (the only candidate to stand, according to Fitzy). He’s running against Patsy McGlone and Ian McCrea, but since it’s Martin McGuinness, it ought to be a shoo-in for the Coalisland man…

The House of Commons is increasingly become for Sinn Fein another House of Lords, shuffling some of its more senior folk, allowing room for another junior co-option into the Assembly with at least another three years to run..


  • keano10

    I am more intrigued by FJH’s comments in that blog about Ian McCrea being given a hard time by Loyalists in Cookstown last night. Are there any more details on that?

  • iluvni

    Yet another unelected Assembly member…

  • BarneyT

    It seems Blairism is well and truly alive today. I believe he had a few unelected “chaps” on the payroll who had the potential to do a lot more damage that Ms Fearon and co could ever hope to do.

    I must read up on this co-op thing as it makes little sense to draft in the unelected. Is it a reward scheme for single jobbing?

    The answer is simple. If you stand for election in NI, you can only take a seat in the NI institutions. Same for Scotland, England and Wales.

    If someone leaves their elected position, this forced a by-election.

    The alternative is to head to London which does not work (unless you are on an expenses fiddle 🙂 )

  • Billy Pilgrim

    I thought Francie was all set to take over as Speaker of the Assembly in the near future. Who will SF now put forward for that role? Anyone got the inside track on that?

  • To clarify Keanos comment…..I took this from a tweet which is why I qualified with “seemingly”.
    On balance I am in favour of co-option. As all parties (DUP subbing their Westminster people, Sean Rodgers SDLP, Chris Lyttle AP) can and have used it in this or previous Assembly, none can really complain.
    Having said this …….it now means that Rosie McSorley, Chris Hazzard, Declan McAleer, Maeve McLaughlin, Megan Fearon, Bronwyn McGahan are all co-options. Ans there will be another for Francie Molloy………which as we say in Belfast seems to be tearing the backside out of the system a bit.
    Obviously these co-options need time to play themselves in and are probably being mentored by senior colleagues but it will mean 25% of Assembly Party are co-options from just 18 months ago.

    Like every Manchester United supporter knows……always play your best team….dont rest your best players. It would seem to me that the short term effect here is that SFs Assembly Party will be weakened. And as Westminster is a black hole in respect of Sinn Féin and notwithstanding that MPs will still be doing constituency work……it seems to me Michelle Gildernew will have a difficult job holding those four votes she needs.
    Increasingly it looks like the “single jobbing” might have been about curtailing some leadership ambitions.

  • Mr Pilgrim,
    Logically a Speaker should be familiar with procedures etc and have a degree of experience which rules out the seven co-options.
    And arguably taking a heavyweight off the SF benches and putting him/her in the Chair would weaken SF benches further.
    In my view Mitchel McLaughlin (the nearly man) would be the front runner.
    They could of course go fora 2011 “intake” person like Phil Flanagan or take someone away from a Ministry……but of the pre-2011 MLAs that would leave Boylan, Brady, McKay, Ruane, Sue Ramsey (possible) Fra McCann, McElduff, Maskey, Kelly and McCartney.

  • michael-mcivor

    There should be three unionist outsiders running in the mid-ulster by election next year with willie frazer compeating with the DUP-and UUP-

    Patsy McGone did not run for the westminister election last time out as it was left to tony Quinn to be the SDLP candidate-i am not sure if Patsy would go against Sinn Fein now because the MPs job for him would be a bridge to far-

    Good luck to Francie Molloy-the seat will remain a Sinn Fein one-

  • RegisterForThisSite

    Surely co-options are all raising profiles prior to election (instead of running an unknown at election time) and I s’pose being Speaker does also raise your profile so is it likely to go to someone who needs the votes come election time. Or indeed, will unionists feel uncomfortable with SF in the chair, gifting it to Alliance for the two years would wind the SDLP up no end and might win transfers to SF in tight seats or indeed gift it to the SDLP it might annoy them even more (a consolation prize for missing out on Justice)

  • Dixie Elliott

    Hold on. I thought Declan Kearney was in the running for this?

    Could it be that recent performances, in particular being ridiculed by Mike C Nesbit, finished his chances or could it be that McGuinness wasn’t going to risk the seat so stuck to somebody less robotic?

  • Big Boss

    Actually Mick, to correct a point, Francie is a Loughgall man and not from Coalisland.

    He of course will win the election, thats not in question. The unionist vote has no effect any more and all the SDLP can hope for is a rise in vote (If they do run McGlone it will be interesting to see what they can achieve, not sure if he is confirmed.)

    What this will leave is yet another co-option for SF, which quite frankly makes a mockery elections imo…. one or 2 sure, but this will be what? 6? 7? in the last 2 years, getting beyond a joke.

  • Gopher

    What would be the differences between Molloy and McGlone apart from McGlone will take his seat in Westminister in the unlikely event he wins?

  • Think SF had 52% of the votes cast, 63% turnout for last MP election,

    Mid Ulster is changing, McGuinness was a vote puller for many moderate people, Molloy does not have half the charm and with the hospital about to be turned in a health centre in Mid Ulster all stemming from a SF Health Minister in 2001, Schools being reconfigured with a education minister in 2012.

    Patsy is doing alot of ground work in Coalisland at the minute and past few months

    A united unionist candidate along with a independent or two could sway a balance to at least make it interesting, assembly election seen highest independent vote in Mid Ulster, but being one of them independents, I am not standing so there are 1,000 votes to be picked up by whoever can win them

  • son of sam

    Sadly the closure of hospitals arising from the actions of a Sinn Fein health minister will have little impact.The good folk of West Tyrone despite having their hospital run down due to Bairbre De Bruin have continued to give endorsement to Sinn Fein candidates.

  • Red Lion

    The mid ulster was an excellent hospital i had a relative as in inpatient there and the care was first class and very personalised, my impression was it was a much more positive experience than the Belfast hospitals. It is also a big local employer. The mid was much loved in the local area.

    For the next elections the mid ulster hospital is the card to play – a lot of people are still very angry and any local candidate who makes it a centrepiece of their chat will touch many nerves

  • Charlie Sheens PR guru

    Red Lion

    “a lot of people are still very angry and any local candidate who makes it a centrepiece of their chat will touch many nerves”

    I believe hfmccloy above was that candidate. While he did well for that type of constituency, it was still only 2%. Kieran Deeney over in West Tyrone however did very well.

    While I think McGlone is well placed to win back a lot of votes from SF, a unionist unity candidate would, as usual, torpedo that.

    Therefore, no one will want a unionist unity candidate more than Francie.

  • Big Boss

    The way i see it is there are only 2 parties that can win this seat. SDLP or Sinn Fein.

    Sinn Fein is 75% likely to take this seat every time, what calls that into question is their Candidate. Francie has been around a long time but doesn’t really have the profile or likeability that McGuinness has. As pointed out already He will not have the cross over appeal that McGuinness has either.

    BUT…He does have that massive SF vote to fall back on which should give him a win.

    On the SDLP side, they have Patsy McGlone (if he is to be the candidate) whos profile has been growing ever since he become deputy leader and then put in a leadership challenge. Certainly he would be held in high regard by the people in mid-ulster and unlike Molloy would cross religious and class divides i believe.

    BUT he is the SDLP candidate but the biggest hitter that they have got west of the bann (not counting foyle) What i suspect they will be looking for is to see how much they can raise their vote without McGuinness on the ticket. Will it be enough to challenge, i dont think so, but maybe, just maybe there is a chance of an upset.

    Mid-ulster is not West Belfast or even West Tyrone, loyalty to the SF cause isnt what it once was.

    Unionist of course could in theory lend their vote to stop SF getting the seat, even all those votes wouldn’t mean much if the SF votes doesn’t fall. They may run a unity candidate but there would be no point. so why do it.

    Independents running like McCloy did at assembly level usually get a few votes, but most likely to come off SDLP than SF or unionists, most of McCloys votes transferred back to SDLP.

    This election for SF is about getting rid of Molloy, one last big hurrah and then they can retire him out to pasture, where he has been for last 5 or 6 years anyway and replacing him with a younger model.

  • Ulidian

    Big Boss

    Any justification for your claim that McGlone “would cross the religious divide”, or is it just the usual wishful thinking on the SDLP’s part?

  • Lionel Hutz

    Does anyone think that Sinn Fein are a bit exposed when their first generation retire? They’ve sent their second generation off to the wilderness – although given Murphy, Ruane and Gildernew’s performances at Minister, that might be the safest place for them. The assembly team looks very weak.

  • son of sam

    Even allowing for an increase in the S D L P vote,it still looks like Sinn Fein ahead at the finish.While the hospital issue by some posters on Slugger may well be a factor ,no doubt the usual S F bandwagon with local G A A personalities (such as Peter Canavan) will ensure that the Republican faithful come out and do their duty.

  • Big Boss


    SDLP getting Unionists votes in Westminster elections is not wishful thinking, though not quite at the level SF would want people to believe. It happened to get Joe Hendron over the line in 93, it can, but wont happen here.

  • Ulidian

    Big Boss

    So you mean tactical votes then, which typically evaporate away from Westminster elections?

  • Charlie Sheens PR guru


    Of course, he means tactical votes. And of course they evaporate away in a PR election , but this isn’t a PR election, its a straight fight. Do unionists prefer Molloy or McGlone to represent them?

  • Mr Hutz…..I have written about this here and elsewhere.
    the reasons why Sinn Féin are sending their second tier off to Westminster (and a black hole) are intriguing. While people certainly can get credit for constituency work, the simple fact is that the profile of Gildnernew and Murphy will be lower.
    Gildernew is after all on a majority of just four votes. And Conor Murphy will have his leadership ambitions curtailed.
    It means that some MLAs have been promoted….Sue Ramsey looks like shes rising to it but Raymond McCartney seems to be struggling.
    It means that McElduff is now #1 SF man in West Tyrone, Flanagan (excellent MLA) in FST, McCartney in Foyle, Boylan (Newry-Armagh) Jenny McCann in West Belfast.
    But the quality is variable. No doubt the younger MLAs (co-options) are being mentored and have time to embed themselves before the next Assembly Election…..but deliberately weakening the “team” seems a high risk strategy.
    I think Patsy McGlone will be helped (or hindered) by being fluent in Irish, a GAA man. And maybe the fact that he went to Rainey Endowed might help.
    There is also a South Derry-East Tyrone split.
    “Big Boss” calls it right. The balance of probability is a Sinn Féin victory.

  • The difference with the Mid Ulster hospital this time is that a SF led Magherafelt Council has agreed to turn it into a community hub, basically rent out the place. A big difference when compared to Omagh.

    The announcement for this will come slap bang in the mouth of the election, as I was advised by SF in the past never waste a crisis. And the health trust here is in crisis as are the remaining hospitals.

    I am already being called into off the record meetings to try and shut me up on facebook and twitter regarding the hospital.

    The cage is still rattled and more and more people are experiencing first hand the effects of no life saving services in Mid Ulster. Any claim made by the current bunch that they are fighting for services I can quickly put out, and will if needed.

    mcGlone would definitely win a unionist vote if it came down to it with the plannign and help he gives, and if it was put McGlone in to keep SF out that is not unrealistic.

    I was the independent in the Assembly, and got three times the vote I thought I would of with 4 SF candidates and as always the pr and bully boy tactics at the polling stations pays off. The run I had was planned last minute, if I was to go with planning I would say it would of been different. Plus there were other independent health candidates who lost me more votes than they won. Dirty tricks were at play to really make sure I didnt get the vote. The planning was based on 3 SF and 1 SDLP candidate, would of opened up the race more but in the end I walked out gracefully and happy.

    If the media printed the half of whats happening the fuse over the hospital would be lit

  • Some other big issues that are still live:

    1- abortion, you would not believe how much I got questioned about that

    2- education – with the Rainey being selected to be reconfigured, and being an ex Rainey man myself McGlone would pick up the vote there if it meant saving the Rainey in its current state. SF definitely will not, the Rainey has pulled some impressive and influential pupils over the years and being a voluntary mixed school it has the ethos of not bitter to the green or orange

    3- The 2 councils are currently in a battle to see who looks best, Magherafelt council are on a very silpperly slope, windmills in SF draperstown and Six towns wont go down well, no funding for tourism in the sperrins is another, these are all SF led council decisions

    There is plenty of dry powder in the bag, nearly join a party and stand myself lol

  • son of sam

    “If the media printed the half of what’s happening the fuse over the hospital woul be lit”——–Are you suggesting that the local papers in the Mid-Ulster area are Sinn Fein compliant?

  • michael-mcivor


    ” I already being called into off the record meetings ”

    by whom-are you silly enough to attend any of these off the record meetings-

    ” Always the pr and bully boy tactics at the polling stations
    pays of ”

    Who is being the bully-the police attend polling stations did you report those bully boys to them at the time -if not why not-

  • I did at every place I was handed two flyers and told to give them back after. that was after making it through the near blocked doorways. I recall one mla saying on doorsteps pregnant mothers could have their children in mid ulster. A very untrue statement and dangerous if had any pregnant mothers believed it. But I am not a sore loser and respect the vote and keep lobbying despite political efforts to shut it down more.

    I will attend off the record meetings, that’s where the future of the hospital is being discussed at, by whom? That’s what Facebook and twitter is for 😉

    Yo know me well enough I can handle my own

  • Media us nit just mid ulster , it is all over the country. The NHSCT has had it’s acute director removed and chairman sacked inside a month.

    This was due to the limelight being kept on Antrim and fir that I will take a bit of credit, the last pr in the media was all the parties and trust saying the new A&E at Antrim will solve all problems. A change in attitudes over the years about the location of Antrim, but the sacked chairman is on record saying it’s in the wrong place to serve the population it is expected to serve. A new A&E won’t solve anything

  • michael-mcivor


    ” Thats what Facebook and twitter is for ”

    Good enough for there but not good enough for Slugger O’Toole-
    You can handle your own the best-share your truth a bit more with us all on here-

  • Comrade Stalin


    Actually I think Sinn Féin’s game here is to try to get new blood into electoral politics so that a new generation is ready to take over. But I also think this is about Gerry Adams trying to maintain control over his party while he is out of the assembly – creating a young, loyal cadre within the assembly is a good way to accomplish that, and banishing the three potential challengers to his leadership off to spend the rest of their career abstaining from Westminster is a good way to neuter them.