Michelle Gildernew and Fermanagh/South Tyrone: “I am honoured to have been selected by South Tyrone.”

[But not Fermanagh and South Tyrone? – Ed]  No.  She tried that.  It didn’t work. So the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle invented a constituency for her.

Sinn Féin’s attempts to rewrite the past clearly have no time limit.  Witness the party’s shenanigans over candidate selection in Fermanagh/South Tyrone for this year’s Northern Ireland Assembly election.

The Ard Chomhairle was forced to re-run their selection convention in Fermanagh/South Tyrone following allegations of unaccounted-for votes which saw former-MP, former-MLA, and current Ard Chomhairle member, Michelle Gildernew, initially selected over sitting MLA, and notorious tweeter, Phil Flanagan.

In the re-run convention Michelle Gildernew was rejected as a candidate by her constituency party in favour of Phil Flanagan along with sitting MLA, and former Provisional IRA member, Sean Lynch, and local Councillor John “brains to burn” Feeley.

SF candidates 2016 Fernmanagh/SouthTyrone

The resulting all-male, Fermanagh-based, party ticket opened the prospect of the possibility, and perhaps probability, of the loss a third seat for the party that had only been secured by 62 votes in 2011.

Apparently reluctant to be seen to impose a fourth candidate in the area, especially a member of the party hierarchy, the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle soon revealed its cunning plan to ensure that former poll-topper, and Ard Chomhairle member, Michelle Gildernew was on the ballot. [Was a turnip involved? – Ed] Possibly…

The Ard Chomhairle decided that there would be another, special, candidate selection convention in Fermanagh/South Tyrone.  This time it would be for an new, fourth spot on the party ticket.  And it would be restricted to South Tyrone – which, of course, is not an Assembly constituency. [Partitionists! – Ed]

As UTV’s Ken Reid noted on 9 Feb.

UTV Political Editor Ken Reid said: “In December, there was a selection convention and Michelle Gildernew was picked with two others. Phil Flanagan, the sitting MLA missed out.

But there were alleged discrepancies in that so there was another convention and this time Michelle Gildernew lost out so I think that the Sinn Féin hierarchy decided that something better be done and it’s been decided there will be a specific convention in south Tyrone next week. [added emphasis]

“There’s a couple of aspects to this – there’s obviously the gender imbalance.

“The candidates are all male but I think that much more important for the Sinn Féin leadership is the fact that south Tyrone wouldn’t have a representative so they’ve decided to take this very unusual step of having a south Tyrone convention.

“I suppose the expectation is that Michelle Gildernew will come through successfully.

“We will have to see but there’s no doubt this was embarrassing for Sinn Féin.”

And as occasional Slugger contributor Chris Donnelly told the Irish News [10 Feb]

“Sinn Féin would have been favourite to take three seats, but the problem now is the shredding of the vote four ways,” he said.

“That means candidates will to a degree have [to] be at loggerheads, because they know that even in the most opportune circumstances all four can’t be elected.”

The special selection convention was held last night in South Tyrone, and Michelle Gildernew was the sole nominee – with out/in candidate, and sitting MLA, Bronwyn McGahan apparently staying out for good this time.

Michelle Gildernew special candidate FST

Following her South Tyrone coronation, Michelle Gildernew released a statement on the Sinn Fein website.

Ms Gildernew said,

“I am honoured to have been selected by South Tyrone. I have a track record of work and delivery for the people of this constituency over two decades .

“This constituency is very dear to me and I look forward to joining the strong  team of candidates from Fermanagh in maximising the Sinn Féin vote.

Of course, those other candidates were selected by the constituency party to represent Fermanagh and South Tyrone.

The only question now is which of the others gets told to fall on their sword…

[#JoinTheRising? – Ed] Indeed.

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  • Ernekid

    Do anyone else get the feeling that Pete doesn’t like Sinn Fein?

    Change the record. Constantly whinging about your personal bugbear isn’t very interesting reading.

  • OneNI

    Sinn Fein’s decline towards being an ordinary NI political party continues..
    This selection is the definition of ‘clusterf@ck’ with party egos over-riding any attempts at leadership. I love democracy….

  • Gaygael

    This is a hell of a mess. Glad to see Michelle on the ticket but it suggests that Sinn Fein ‘comrades’ are not as United as expected.

  • mickfealty

    Don’t read it then?

  • Ryan A

    Possibly which TWO candidates will fall on their swords.

  • the rich get richer

    I probably shouldn’t say this until after the election(in the south)but I hope this “awkwardness” results in some of the party at least attempting to Give Gerry Adams the Heave Ho after the election.

    He is so bad in an election Arena that you would wonder is he actually working for the British. He is certainly doing a great job at stopping Sinn Fein making a breakthrough in the South.

  • mjh

    So party members from Fermanagh had one vote each – at the constituency level selection; while members from South Tyrone got two votes each, one at the constituency level and one at the South Tyrone level.

    Shades of the old Londonderry Corporation.

    Wasn’t there a Civil Rights movement against things like that?

  • Well, it was interesting enough for Sinn Féin Dublin City Councillor Chris Andrews to re-tweet.

    Assuming that he read it…

  • Gingray

    Was the level of sneering from Pete enough, or do you want more?

    Fantastic opportunity for the SDLP, but would winning the seat be enough to stop the naysayers on slugger?

    Curiously the rabid Sinn Fein hatred and SDLP doom mongering tend to be from the same people.

  • chrisjones2

    Yes but we know you are like that so we view your posts in that context

  • chrisjones2

    Rabid SF hatred? You mean the pointing up the ballot rigging. So who rigged it and why?

  • barnshee

    Got to get in to get her “industrial wage”

  • Gingray

    Not sure the ballot rigging was the thrust of this blog, bit Pete has kindly linked to 3 of his previous blogs on the topic.
    More than half of all blogs this week featured Sinn Fein, mostly negative, which should be expected as they are a shower.
    No mention of Devenney and his vote SDLP, nor of our First Minister attending a 1916 event.
    Its just so blooming dull that so many people analyse Sinn Fein in great detail, at the expense of every other party.

  • Gingray

    “bit Pete has kindly linked to 3 of his previous blogs on the topic”

    The ‘topic’ has been an ongoing story since the first selection convention in December last year.

    Each iteration has been blogged on Slugger – hence the links to past posts – it’s generally called background. I like to think of it as part of a Baconian history. The links have links and so on… There is lots of other stuff there if you’re interested. No obligation, but it’s an option.

    You also missed the fact that the first post I linked to in that story here was by Mick. But that’s by-the-by.

    It’s how blogs work. And now even the MSM follow – half-heartedly at times, but still…

    If you don’t understand that, then you don’t understand blogging. It’s 3 dimensional, not 2.

    And your grasp of statistics is as convincing as Gerry’s.

    I’m not responsible for other bloggers on Slugger. I just blog what I find interesting and/or significant enough to blog. Time, and head-space, is restricted.

    Here’s my previous post.

    “Its just so blooming dull that so many people analyse Sinn Fein in great detail, at the expense of every other party.”

    Yeah, don’t look too closely. The Emperor has no clothes on.

    And he’s trampolining with his dog…

  • Acrobat_747

    So now slugger is bias against SF along with RTE, BBC, Sindo, Irish Times, Irish Examiner, and a list that goes for ever.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if An Phoblacht gets a touch for not supporting ‘the cause’ enough.

  • eireanne3

    That’s how some people deal with traumatic histories and legacies. The bad is downplayed to near irrelevance, while the good is magnified. The crimes committed by others take on a disproportionate level of importance.

  • chrisjones2

    What has Devenny got to do with this? Your desperation is making you grasp at straws

  • chrisjones2

    Look the ballot was rigged. They were caught so they rigged up another process to get her on the ticket. Why?

  • chrisjones2

    The bad is downplayed to near irrelevance, while the good is magnified.

    As in internal ballot rigging?

  • chrisjones2

    Its a very clever dog …Gerry told us so

  • Gaygael

    What? They gave south Tyrone members a second vote?
    Oh dear.

  • Katyusha

    As an FST constituent myself, I am happy that Michelle is back on the ticket.
    Regardless of any skulduggery involved.

    If geography or gender imbalance is the issue, then perhaps in future there will be different conventions each electing one candidate each. However I suspect there were also other reasons behind this. Not that I really care, the internal workings of any political party does not really interest me. It’s their own business.

  • chrisjones2

    “Michelle is back on the ticket.Regardless of any skulduggery involved.”

    Standard SF position – I have standards ….and if you don’t like ’em I have others

  • chrisjones2

    …and ironically didnt it start in Dungannon!!!!!!

  • Jollyraj

    Discrimination fernenst, & piecemeal disenfranchisement of, against the nationalist people of Fermanagh?

  • Jollyraj

    As many votes as it takes til the result suits.

  • Jollyraj

    Will an iternal SF enquiry later conclude that the unlucky candidate (s) fell backwards onto their swords, one wonders. Stay tuned.

  • ranger1640

    Is this a case of votail early, votail often and if you don’t votail for the right person you can votail all over again until you votail for who the fascist leaders want.

    Is this votail Gerrymandering republican style??? It’s all about equality you “bastards”.

  • Gingray


    I am sure the MSM are following this, but 2 days after the event and it does not feature on the BBC NewsNI front page, indeed Sinn Fein are not even mentioned in any of the 30 odd articles. UTV feature it tho, but not the BT, IN or Newsletter.

    “I just blog what I find interesting and/or significant enough to blog.”

    As is your right. Keep at it.

    My original comment was on the tone – sneering with a fair dose of intellectual snobbery. The closest comparable piece I can find is something from Katie Hopkins.

    My second comment, that you have replied to, was a more general issue about the obsession some people have with Sinn Fein, which is turning Slugger into a Shinnerfest of articles, for and against.

    Take you Pete – when did you last post about science and astronomy? The breadth of articles is shrinking.

  • Gingray

    Ha ha ha, what desperation – I honestly couldn’t care about how parties select who stands. I am not a member, nor would I wish to be aligned to a bunch of corrupt numpties.

    Out of interest – you say it was rigged.

    Did you make similar comments when the UUP selected Neil Somerville to replace Tom Elliott in Fermanagh South Tyrone, despite the fact they then admitted to miscounts? Guess how many articles Slugger had on that story, and then when Sommerville “resigned” in January of this year to allow the UUP to get the right man in.

    Some parties are held to different standards in Northern Ireland.

  • Ryan A

    Maybe there’ll be some extensive research carried out…

  • Nicholas Whyte

    From a normative point of view: in a constituency like FST, if you are running three candidates it’s madness to run three F and none ST. In today’s day and age, it’s also madness to run three men and no women. Any sensible political party will have a mechanism to correct such errors made by the local selection mechanisms (and hopefully also will have mechanisms to minimise the chances of those happening). I actually feel sympathy for SF; the party locally made a mistake, and they have now moved to correct it at central level. Whether they did that within the letter and spirit of their own rules is not for me to judge.

  • Jollyraj

    That it then? No more recounts, do-overs or suggestions of vote-rigging?