Nice piece by Peter Geoghegan, who’s been doing some digging in Mid Ulster, and what a functional political argument might have raised for the voters:
The Irish housing boom was not confined to the southern side of the border, and the collapse in construction has hit Mid-Ulster hard. Between 2007 and 2008, joblessness in the area increased by 45 per cent. Dungannon and Cookstown have recorded the highest levels of emigration in Northern Ireland, according to figures released by the Department of Finance.
In fact the SDLP’s candidate (the clear loser in the sham fight between McGuinness’s successor, and de fact political retiree Francie Molloy and a unity unionist candidate, no one knows or has heard of) Patsy McGlone has tried to make a fight of it, though it seems no one in the media is listening.
In a presser, which as far as we can tell was not taken up by any major media outlet [nor did we, before you start getting too cocky – Ed], he laid out some interesting comparisons between the amount of government investment money coming into the dFM’s as opposed to the FM’s constituency.
It’s far from flattering to the popular big Sinn Fein man from Derry:
“But the local Executive has failed to oversee the kind of investment needed to secure a sustainable economic recovery for Mid Ulster. Mid Ulster has been neglected by having the DUP and Sinn Féin in control of Executive spending.
“From 2007 to 2012 Invest NI offered £17.71 million assistance to a total planned investment of £165 million, to create an expected 1,690 jobs. During the same time, in East Belfast, Invest NI offered £58.81 million assistance to a total planned investment of £750 million, to create an expected 2,914 jobs.
In fact that’s a little unfair since Invest NI money is likely to pander to the appetite of private or multinational firms they invest in. Mid Ulster is at the very least far removed from larger scale operations in Belfast.
A much fairer comparison would be between east and west Belfast. That’s a great deal worse. That £750 million for east stacks up against a very slender £50 million for west Belfast.
As Peter notes, there is no incentive for either Lutton or Molloy to upset the real applecart, which of course is control of the joint Office of First and deputy First Minister:
The occasional sharp-tongued quarrel aside, neither paramour is willing to upset their union by proposing a radical shake-up of the affairs of state.
Never mind the quality feel the width of my parliamentary majority, as Francie’s election brochure, cramped back with local MLAs and Councillors and delivered at Masses across the constituency last Sunday will tell you… And barely a word about what he or his party colleague’s plan to do about the economic hardship in Mid Ulster…
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty