Carál Ní Chuilín: “Electoral commission vetoed using last election figures…” – Update

David may not want to go there, although ‘idealistic’ wasn’t the first word that sprang to mind.  [Was it another word beginning with ‘i’? – Ed]  You might very well think that…  ANYhoo…

Gerry Kelly’s Sinn Féin colleague in north Belfast, and the Northern Ireland Culture Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín, MLA, should, perhaps, have other things on her mind.  But, on Thursday, the Minister was on Twitter defending Sinn Féin’s use of the 2011 census’ breakdown of the constituency by religion in support of the party’s claim that Gerry Kelly can win.  Here’s that tweet

It prompted the noted psephologist, Nicholas Whyte, to ask a pertinent question of the Electoral Commission.

Hopefully Nicholas will let us know if/when the Electoral Commission responds…

It does, however, raise the question of which “last election figures” Carál Ní Chuilín is claiming the party wanted to use, but were prevented from doing so?

Logically, the first choice would be the 2010 Westminster General Election.  But when we look at the results for North Belfast in 2010 we see the following [All figures from the indispensable Ark]

Designated Unionist parties (DUP(40%) + UCUNF(7.7%) [UUP/Conservative]) – 47.7%

Designated Nationalist parties (Sinn Féin(34%) + SDLP(12.3%)) – 46.3%

Other (Alliance(4.9%) + Independent(1.1%)) – 6%

Not quite the result Sinn Féin were implying by using those 2011 census figures for Catholic v Protestant…

Perhaps Carál Ní Chuilín meant the 2011 Assembly Election?  Here are those results

Designated Unionist parties (DUP(37.1%) + UUP(8.2%)) – 45.3%

Designated Nationalist parties (Sinn Féin(31.9%) + SDLP(12%)) – 43.9%

Other (Alliance(6.3%) + Independent(3.5%) + Workers Party(1%)) – 10.8%

Again, not quite the result Sinn Féin were implying by using those 2011 census figures for Catholic v Protestant…

Rather than risk being accused of sectarianism – as Sinn Féin was when an industrial  tribunal found that the then NI Regional Development Minister, Conor Murphy, appointed the chairman of NI Water “because he was not from a Protestant background and because he was known to the Minister and his ministerial colleagues” –  by using the 2011 census’ breakdown of the constituency by religion in support of the party’s claim that Gerry Kelly can win, the party could have pointed to other, perhaps more relevant, figures from that census.  As the ever indispensable Ark notes for North Belfast

In the multi-option national identity question, 48.66% said that they had British identity (10th of 18 constituencies), 29.88% said that they had Irish identity (9th), 27.28% Northern Irish (15th), 1.26% English, Scots or Welsh (14th), and 3.09% something other (7th). [added emphasis]

[That wouldn’t support the party’s claim! – Ed]  Indeed, but neither does the Catholic v Protestant figures…

Update Progress! Of sorts…

Meanwhile, some political reaction. From the BBC report.

Ulster Unionist Tom Elliott said the leaflet was blatantly sectarian.

“Sinn Féin are engaged in the worst and most blatant kind of sectarian campaign yet exhibited by a political party during the general election,” he said.

“In their headlong rush to try and win the Westminster seat of North Belfast, they have resorted to the lowest common denominator – sectarianism.

“They will have offended many people across the denominations.”

Nuala McAllister of the Alliance Party said there was “nowhere else in these islands where it would be acceptable to target people on the basis of their religion”.

“This would be equivalent to a city in the north of England where a party puts out letters highlighting the percentage of the population that is Christian versus the percentage of the population that is Muslim,” she said.

“The more that we talk about this divide, the more that we talk about this sectarian headcount, it just perpetuates the divide more. This is lazy politics.”

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  • Nicholas Whyte

    Thanks for posting this, Pete. I don’t expect an immediate reply from the Electoral Commission, given that it’s a long weekend, but I am surprised to hear a) that they are telling parties what they can and can’t put on leaflets, b) that the last election results, which are in the public domain, are not allowed and c) that a creative interpretation of the census (which did not actually ask about Unionists or Nationalists) is allowed.

    Of course, Carál Ní Chuilín’s account may be mistaken. I look forward to getting clarification.

  • NMS

    How many of the “Catholics” are not entitled to vote? Are there many Poles in North Belfast? It looks like Carál NíChuilín is doing her best to a dig a deeper hole for Gerry Kelly, because posing the information in the manner it is still a sectarian head count. But then again, it diverts attention from her mess in West Belfast!

  • Lee Reynolds

    Rather unwise to make such a claim when SF ads and leaflets in NB have been using ‘recent election results’ (see pic)

    Although even those figures are rather dodgy. They appear to be based on the Belfast City Council wards of Belfast North and the newtownabbey wards of Belfast North taken out. At the Council elections Unionist turnout grew in North Belfast.

  • Lee Reynolds

    And here is an North Belfast SF election leaflet with ‘recent election results’

  • Robin Keogh

    I dont think GK can win this seat as much as I would like him too. The numbers may seem stacked in his favour regarding the census but the figures quoted include the entire population and dont take account of the fact that in the over 18 category Prods are still a majority(52% ) with Cats(44%) a fair bit behind. Moreover, the younger age cohorts that do have a Cat majority ( C 51%, P 39%) are far less likely to vote compared to the older age cohorts that still have a sizeable Prod majority and traditionally have a much higher turnout rate. However the Cat community is growing while the prod community is declining which suggests the seat will fall from Unionist hands soon enough.

    On the point of comparing religious stats figures and assigning them to either community, one would have to either have their head in the sand or living in a world that simply denies reality. We know that politcal preference breaks down along stated religious lines, and more so in an area like NB that saw the worst of the troubles and has a very clear sectarian divide. Not withstanding the good cross commuinty work done by individuals and groups in the area, it will take a lot more than blissfull denial to successfully challenge the obvious political reality.

    Of course the community background stats from 2011 will have changed somewhat between then and now (2015) I imagine that NB SF may have been taking this into account. Over the last four years NB lost approx 3500 voters. The majority of them Protestant, at the other eand of the spectrum NB gained 5500 new voters, the majority of these Catholic.So given the religious declaration and politcal correlation, its a matter of absolute statistical certainty that reprentation in NB will change. SF having looked at similar calculations may believe that the figures stack up now to make the difference, I dont see it.

    In terms of self identity nationality, 57% identify with Ireland. Almost half of these specifically Identify as Northern irish. There is little or no deep analysis on what this means but it might be fair to assume the following. For some it may be an expression of identity seperate and distinct from either Irish or British. For others it could be an extension of what they see as a broader Irish or British identity, however, as it stands we simply do not know for sure so cant make any credible claims one way or another.

    Ultimately it appears that people are uncomfartable when Nationalists and Unionists use religious tags to make their point or argue their position, despite the fact that NISRA go to considerable lengths to find out these details, despite the fact that the media at home and abroad make much hash out of the religious breakdown results and despite the fact that the North was physically carved out on the basis of a religious headcount, its very hard to get away from that reality.As Peter Robinson has stated ‘ we cannot simply ignore the demographic realities’.

  • guest 2

    Sic em pete sic em boy

  • chrisjones2

    Does she actually control her own Twitter account or does the Party do it for her?

  • chrisjones2

    On the copies of this I have seen posted there does not seem to be an imprint.

    http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0013/173020/UKPGE-

    1.31 On printed material, such as leaflets and posters, you
    must include the name and address of:
    • the printer
    • the promoter
    • any person on behalf of whom the material is being
    published (and who is not the promoter)

    Its illegal to distribute material that does not carry this

    So is there an imprint?

    If not who authorised this leaflet and who printed it? Was it Gerry Kelly or SF or someone else?

    Has there been a breach of electoral; law? If so, will the Commission dare prosecute?

  • chrisjones2

    Nicholas

    don’t expect a reply from the Electoral Commission at all !!!!

  • Nicholas Whyte

    Chris,

    Given that lots of other leaflets, including North Belfast SF leaflets, have been merrily reporting various aspects of past election results, it may not be the Electoral Commission that needs to explain this…

  • Nicholas Whyte

    Robin,

    It’s not denial to insist that the census did not ask how many Unionists or Nationalists there are in North Belfast; it’s simple fact. Political orientation was not surveyed by the census, and it is incorrect to state that it was.

  • Robin Keogh

    Nick, I am not suggesting the poster was appropriate or indeed accurate, i am simply pointing out something that is pretty apparent and thats the correlation between religious identity and voting behaviour. This leads to assumption which seems to be reflected in the ad. If a community breaks down along religous lines say 45/55, and election results breadown almost exactly along those lines, is it not reasonable to therefore assign those groups in both terms?

  • Robin Keogh

    Hi lee, at the council elections there was a surge in Unionist turnout very much due to anger over the fleg. If that momentum can be manitained then Gerry wont take the seat.

  • mickfealty

    The Lib Dems in England have been using the ‘only Lib Dems can stop the Tories’ line with the same kind of disproportionate bar charts for years, but because it’s a common theme over most of their constituencies, they tend not to print specific figures each time.

    Looks to me like a hastily arrived at cover story for misrepresenting census figures as actual voting figures.

  • Robin Keogh

    I think the party controls it chris. I was told recently that there is a special office on top of the divis flats with a lot of high tech electronic equipment specifically designed to intercept the social media accounts of all SF reps, members and associates. Apparently they control some ten thousand accounts with a staff of only 600. Its quite impressive.

  • Robin Keogh

    She would be a bit thick to come out with a story that could be so easily checked against, no?

  • You might very well think that, I couldn’t possibly comment…

  • mickfealty

    I’m not getting suckered into playing the woman Robin, thanks very much. But have you have ever heard of this rule before?

  • Robin Keogh

    I am not trying to Suck you anywhere Mick. I am pointing out the obvious no? Making a claim that can so easily be discredited does not seem to me to be the brightest thing to do. Nick I hope will get his answer and let us know soon enough. BTW i thought the rule about playing the man/ball etc only related to the original poster and subsequent posters?

  • Robin

    In terms of self identity nationality, 57% identify with Ireland.

    No. It was a “multi-option national identity question”. More than one identity could be selected. There will be overlaps. As you would expect. That’s why the total percentage is higher than 100.

    But of those multi-identities, “48.66% said that they had British identity” while “29.88% said that they had Irish identity”.

  • mickfealty

    Look, if you are used to not getting challenged on these things, and more importantly there appears to be no punishment for it, then of course people will be happy to take liberties.

    We don’t have to wait for the EC to see there’s already other misrepresentations in the literature. So why stop there?

  • Robin Keogh

    Yes and as you pointed out in your original post, 27% identifed as Northern Irish and despite the overlapping there is no majority nationality, just a collection of minorities.

  • Robin Keogh

    I get challenged on practially everything I say mick so no need to worry on that score. Again, I am not defending the literature, I am trying to give some context as to why it might have been published.

  • As long as you understand that 57% did not “identify with Ireland”, then my work is done.

  • Robin Keogh

    Sorry, I am a bit slow today due to an athletic night last night. You are correct, i see the overlap there on the NISRA tables on national Identity, only 48% of repondants identified with Ireland.

  • Robin, if you are going to quote sources do us all a favour and link to them.

  • Robin Keogh
  • Zeno

    Why do you think it was published? There aren’t that many possibilities. Why did Carol say something that appears to be wrong and can be checked anyway? Again there aren’t that many possible answers.
    As IBM say……… THINK.

  • Robin
    That doesn’t do what it says on the tin.

  • Robin Keogh

    Okie Doke

  • Robin Keogh

    Hi Zeno, as i pointed out there above i think it was published in the context of the percieved closeness of the contest against the demographic dynamics. It would appear that the text is a desperate plea to get nationalists to the polls in the wake of such low turnout during the locals last year. I dont know why carol said what she said, if she is wrong then somebody wil need to have a serious word with her. Thanks for your encouragement to ‘think’. I will try to think harder about things but that is no garauntee I will agree with you. 😉

  • Gopher

    shill
    ʃɪl/
    North Americaninformal
    noun
    noun: shill; plural noun: shills
    1.
    an accomplice of a confidence trickster or swindler who poses as a genuine customer to entice or encourage others.”I used to be a shill in a Reno gambling club”
    a person who pretends to give an impartial endorsement of something in which they themselves have an interest.”a megamillionaire who makes more money as a shill for corporate products than he does for playing basketball”
    verb

  • Zeno

    If it’s a game, My guess is Marty O Millionaire as he’s known in West Belfast.

  • Zeno

    Desperation is a leading possibility and they obviously worked out the trade off of being accused of being sectarian. OR did they? Maybe they are just thick, Though, it is hard to believe anyone could be that thick, But if thats the case Carol is just doing deflection.
    If I was a SF election strategist, I wouldn’t have gone with something so blatantly sectarian. Would you? Oh you can brush it off with ,themuns are sectarian, but I think I would have held what little high ground they have instead.

  • Robin Keogh

    I agree with much of that, there is fair bit of consternation among shinners in my neck of the woods over the whole issue. I doubt they are thick, although it might have been a brain fart that escaped attention. Or it could have been a deliberate tactic to draw attention to the contest, maybe the same tactic that produced the StarWars video. In any event, the whole thing will be forgotten in a couple of days as the build up to the election overheats.

  • the rich get richer

    I don’t think mickfealty was aiming the “challenged” comment at yourself Robin Keogh.

  • mickfealty

    It wasn’t aimed personally at you Robin. I’m saying there is no air war in nationalism and no challenge function.

  • Nicholas Whyte

    Robin,

    First, of course you can assign people whatever way you like, as long as you make it clear that you are doing it. But if you state that the census measured Nationalists and Unionists, it simply isn’t true.

    Second, your hypothetical “almost exactly” situation doesn’t apply here. Crucially, Unionist parties, in aggregate, are consistently ahead of Nationalist parties in elections in North Belfast; while the census shows that there are more Catholics than Protestants. It is an important difference, if an inconvenient one for some.

    The fact is that mapping census religious background onto votes cast in NI is a lot fuzzier than some people like to think. You are right to look at age cohorts as part of it; in my view the 7.4% in North Belfast who do not identify with either brand of Christianity are at least as important a factor, but there is no room for them in your analysis!

  • Abucs

    I think promoting the election along the lines of a sectarian headcount goes against what Sinn Fein claim to be representing.
    It is also counter-productive. The alienation and unease it would cause in the British/Protestant/Unionist community across the 6 counties outweighs any minor pick up of votes it might create on the Irish/Catholic/Nationalist side in the north Belfast electorate. At best it just means Gerry will get a bit closer to his rival and harden attitudes against SF.
    In my opinion a party wanting to appeal to the hearts and minds of all people does not do these kinds of things. It shows a weakness in political awareness and policy creation.

  • Reader

    I think I recall that there was a change in the law a few years back insisting that advertisers should use proportional graphics for statistics. It’s time the law was extended to apply to political campaigns.

  • Robin Keogh

    Cool cheers

  • Robin Keogh

    I take your point, especially regarding the poster/flyer episode, they certainly pushed the line there. My hypothetical was just a quick crude example as to why the reasoning behind political and religious correlation may exist. Yes Unionist parties are ahead and that’s born out in the census stats for the over 18 population, Moreover the 6% Alliance vote is similar to the ‘other’ category. I didn’t exclude anyone.

  • Zeno

    ” In any event, the whole thing will be forgotten in a couple of days ”

    I’ve hear that before by SF supporters. They said that about the Maíria Cahill case and child abuse cover ups. Maybe that’s the Press Office strategy.

    I used to doubt they were a bit thick but the welfare reform debacle made them look like idiots. Their manifesto is riddled with inaccuracies, and that’s being kind. Their Corporation Tax plan puts them to the right of the Tories, and their sign up to actually borrowing money to put people out of work and cut 20,000 jobs makes them an enemy of the working class.
    SF in the South and SF in the North are two different parties.

  • Robin Keogh

    As I pointed out before to you there Zeno, its impossible to compare the jurisdictions given the vast difference in the power dynamic. And as for corporation tax, its a necessary step if the north has any chance of matching the souths ability to attract FDI. The media seems to be quiet enough on the so-called cover ups at the moment, concentrating on other issues. That’s the problem when the media use victims for sensationalism, the survivors are ditched when their story stops being hot. SF North and South are the same party idealistically but have to adjust depending on regional circumstances, that’s responsible politics. The Westie manifestos are pretty much irrelevent where Irish parties are concerned, a shopping list on the back of a beer mat would get the same attention in london from irish politicians as a detailed one hundred page comprehensive document costed to within 1p.

  • Zeno

    Thanks Robin. So no point in putting out a sensible manifesto when any old thing will do the job. Makes sense, a chicken in every oven and a car in every garage will do the trick……… reminds me of Madge Simpson trying to make a political speech and realising all she had to do was play to the crowd and shout 911 WAS BAD!!

  • Cue Bono

    Ah yes the fleg. Funny at the time though wasn’t it?

  • Cue Bono

    Staffed by mi5 I presume?

  • Robin Keogh

    Funny? Eh, not sure i would have called the fleg riots etc. funny

  • In the absence of the source figures, Robin, perhaps you can answer one question.

    Does your quoted figure of 48% includes those who self-identified as both Northern Irish AND British?

    Thought so.

    And, of those multi-identities, “48.66% said that they had British identity” while “29.88% said that they had Irish identity”.

  • Robin Keogh

    All
    usual residents
    102,531

    British
    only
    42,080

    Irish
    only
    27,624

    Northern
    Irish only
    20,098

    Other12729

    So u can see there that according to the published stats, a majority identify with ireland

    Table LC2210NI: NATIONAL IDENTITY (CLASSIFICATION 1) BY RELIGION OR RELIGION BROUGHT UP IN

  • Yes, well, according to your figures. A simple link to the source was all I asked for. Northern Ireland identity is now synonymous with Irish identity is it?

    Let’s remind ourselves of the figures Ark noted for North Belfast.

    Of those multi-identities, “48.66% said that they had British identity” while “29.88% said that they had Irish identity”.

  • Robin Keogh

    Hi pete, I never claimed that a Northern Ireland Identity is synonymous with Iirsh Identity itself, but it is synonymous with Ireland, so make of that what you will. The source is the actual source that conducted the census – NISRA – which i have linked in a previous post and lniked the actual table itself just above. The figures above are a cut and paste from that table. If the link is not working for you, you can go directly to the NISRA website and see all the tables there under 2011 census results.

  • Robin Keogh

    Garda Special Branch

  • NMS

    Barney, My point being that they the count of “Catholics” includes many people who are not “Irish Catholics”. The largest community of whom are Poles. They may also include people from the Philippines etc. These various other nationalities include in Kelly’s count do not of course have a vote. That is all.

  • Update Progress! Of sorts…

    Apologies to @eoni_official for error in my tweet on North Belfast leaflet "election commission vetoed using last election figures" 1/2— Carál Ní Chuilín MLA (@CaralNiChuilin) May 3, 2015

    Meanwhile, some political reaction. From the BBC report.

    Ulster Unionist Tom Elliott said the leaflet was blatantly sectarian.

    “Sinn Féin are engaged in the worst and most blatant kind of sectarian campaign yet exhibited by a political party during the general election,” he said.

    “In their headlong rush to try and win the Westminster seat of North Belfast, they have resorted to the lowest common denominator – sectarianism.

    “They will have offended many people across the denominations.”

    Nuala McAllister of the Alliance Party said there was “nowhere else in these islands where it would be acceptable to target people on the basis of their religion”.

    “This would be equivalent to a city in the north of England where a party puts out letters highlighting the percentage of the population that is Christian versus the percentage of the population that is Muslim,” she said.

    “The more that we talk about this divide, the more that we talk about this sectarian headcount, it just perpetuates the divide more. This is lazy politics.”