‘The Fearghal McKinney effect’

There obviously won’t be any pact between the SDLP and Sinn Féin anytime soon and the latest comments from Michelle O’Neill and Colum Eastwood reaffirm their party positions.

Eastwood is keeping one eye to the unionist voters in Foyle and especially South Down that will be considering voting strategically for his party to keep Sinn Féin out.

A pact with republicans may scare the horses.

No pact is good news for the SDLP in South Down and Foyle, less so South Belfast. With Sinn Féin, the Greens and Alliance throwing their hats into the ring this could have a salami slicing effect on Alasdair McDonnell’s slim majority.

Looking at past election figures this is a hugely significant poll for Eastwood. The SDLP has held at least 3 seats for the past 30 years since Eddie McGrady, John Hume and Seamus Mallon were returned to Westminster in 1987 . They added West Belfast to this tally briefly between 1992 and 1997 but have consistently held a trio of seats ever since. Remarkable to think that whilst the SDLP Assembly tally has reduced at every single Assembly election from 1998 to 2016 that the MP tally has remained static.

Sinn Féin of course knew that the SDLP were going to reject the proposal that they stand aside in Fermanagh / South Tyrone and North Belfast. The SDLP have already stated that they would not engage in a pact with abstentionist candidates. John Finucane has a big challenge ahead of him to overturn the DUP majority in North Belfast but to come within range he needs to eat into the SDLP base significantly.

A case study in point is when Fearghal McKinney stood in Fermanagh and South Tyrone in 2010. Because there was a single unionist candidate – Rodney Connor – this helped mobilise the nationalist vote significantly behind Michelle Gildernew who won by 4 votes. In the process the SDLP vote crashed from 14.8 to 7.6% and has never really recovered since. Sinn Féin expect that Finucane will have a wider appeal to the middle classes and hope that nationalists will buy into the ethos of what could have been the anti-Brexit pact – back the progressive candidate that is best placed to win a First-past-the-post poll.

One of the biggest vote swings in the March Assembly election was from the SDLP to Sinn Féin in South Down  and almost led to the SDLP losing their second Assembly seat to the Alliance’s Patrick Brown. The SDLP majority over Sinn Féin here has reduced consistently at each Westminster election and this may be the year that republicans finally take the South Down crown. However whilst the Assembly figures are quite stark the big question is how many thousand votes is Ritchie’s incumbency worth?

Mark Durkan has always maintained a majority of 4-6,000 in Foyle and will benefit from the decision of the Ulster Unionists not to stand. He remains the best placed of the three incumbents.

There will be concern in the SDLP that there is a quickening growth in the Sinn Féin vote following the March election. It may contribute to the loss of two of their three seats. However if Colum Eastwood and the SDLP can hold all of their sitting MPs it would be an equally extraordinary result.

This week may not represent the best of starts though. The SDLP position of not backing an abstentionist and proceeding to stand in North Belfast and Fermanagh/South Tyrone will not be well received – in the main – by a more pragmatic nationalist electorate. They would rather that Tom Elliott and Nigel Dodds did not emerge victorious on 8th June regardless of arguments over abstentionism. That view will be held by voting nationalists across the north, not just in those two constituencies.

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  • CatholicLeft

    I think that an educated nationalist electorate can see through a phoney offer by Sinn Fein which makes no offer to reciprocate in South Belfast. To pretend an anti-Brexit pact is laughable because the SF MPs will not take their seats to vote against hard Brexit, which is why this is so transparent as a narrow political ploy.

  • New Yorker

    Why do people support candidates who are no-show? Would it not be better to vote for candidates who will do the job and show up?

  • Granni Trixie

    Again, no Republicans…everybody “nationalists” now,Daithi?

  • mickfealty

    We start almost every election campaign with SF looking for a sectarian pact with the SDLP and a “all your base are belong to us” line.

    This time Colum headed it off at the pass by getting on the front foot first. Good PR for a time, but it does look to me that Brexit is not going to be the big deal we all thought it might.

    The growth of Mairtin’s vote in March will be of greatest concern to them. It should mean there’s not a repeat of what was one of the nastiest and dirtiest ground campaigns in NI electoral history.

    But this is basically the same field as last time. Al will be helped by the fact the unionist vote gets split again, and the fact there was a bit of a boost in the UU vote.

    Whoever takes the seat will do so in similarly low margins to Al. I think Margaret will hold in SD, because of her incumbency factor. Durkan probably hold but on a reduced margin.

    For this election getting through with minimum damage is the only aim. I suspect a stronger party in future will tolerate pacts, but only where it serves to build them, and not their rivals.

    Standing down when they’re as weak as they are only encourages the considerable predatory instincts of their old rivals.

    PS, SF missed a trick with Finucane in North. Getting him to stand as an independent would have called the SDLP’s bluff there.

    When he turned up in Party colours and it was an offer too easily refused. An anti Brexit pact might just have punished the DUP.

  • Croiteir

    And thus the decline of the SDLP will continue, this time Colum has panicked, he knows that this election may see the wipe out of the Westminster three, the next step is the wipe out at the Assembly layer, then the gradual genteel slide to obscurity will continue as council representation shrinks. The SDLP are dying, slowly but surely, all the signs are there for those who wish to see. The attempt to maintain the seats by a pact shows the weakness of their position.

  • mickfealty

    I didn’t have you down as a Marxian Determinist Croit?

  • Jag

    How stupid are N Ireland politicians – if the SDLP doesn’t stand in N Belfast, SF will somehow find it in themselves to stand Mairty down in S Belfast. It’s a 15 second call between Michelle and Colum. Jeez!

  • mickfealty

    Mairtin shouldn’t be asked to step down in South. He’s by far SF’s best prospect for a seat there.

    If the SDLP doesn’t stand in North their share will get eaten by the same combo that is eating them in SD (SF/All) and Dodds will still come home.

    Pointless 15 second gestures both.

  • Jag

    Mairty standing down in S Belfast should see Alasdair home safely. SDLP standing down in N Belfast is more difficult because SF will still face an uphill battle, but John Finucane has more than a fighting chance.

    Result, Alasdair is a cert. John is a fair bet.

    If Mairty competes in S Belfast, Alasdair will see his vote sliced, possibly fatally. If the SDLP stand in N Belfast, John Finucane’s uphill battle becomes a sheer climb.

    Result, Alasdair quite possibly gone. Dodd’s a cert.

    All it takes is a 15 second phone call between Michelle and Colum this morning. “Hi Colum, Michelle here, is there anything we can do about N and S Belfast” “Okay Michelle, just for this one time, we’re minded not to stand in North Belfast” “If that’s how it works out, we’ll stand Mairty down in South Belfast” “Grand so, can we make an announcement” “Yes, agreed” “Okay, I’m off out to a picnic in the park” “Yes, best to make hay when the sun shines!” “You’re not wrong there!”

    15 seconds.

  • james

    Yes, it’s one of the approved buzzwords of the week. Expect to see DaithI and others like him shoehorn the word ‘progressive’ into as many sentences as possible.

    The expression ‘an understanding’ (meaning ‘pact’) already seems to be on the outs, though.

  • mickfealty

    See my comment above?

  • Jag

    Lost me with SD, Mick. Margaret Ritchie should romp home regardless of any development in N and S Belfast.

    What should be focussing minds this morning is, what result do SDLP/SF want.

    (1) Result, Alasdair is a cert. John is a fair bet.

    (2) Result, Alasdair quite possibly gone. Dodd’s a cert.

  • Karl

    No Pact
    NB – SF eat into SDLP vote with modern candidate that has widespread appeal and SDLP are seen to allow Dodds home. SDLP vote affected in forthcoming locals
    SB – SF and others eat into SDLP vote with the result that the SDLP lose their seat to the DUP

    Pact
    NB – SF have a decent chance to unseat Dodds. SDLP vote probably bounces back for local elections
    SB – SDLP save their seat and have a decent chance of returning all 3 as the wider nationalist electorate dont punish them for allowing Dodds and Elliot a bigger chance of remaining.

    This moral high ground is expensive real estate for the SDLP, one which they can no longer afford. Time for realpolitik lads.

  • hugh mccloy

    This is getting as cringey as Gerry Kellys Catholic v protestant flyer to make the change. SF are going bananas trying their best to generate a wind that shakes the barely divide in the sterotypical nationalist vote.

    If you look at any election since the collapse of the assembly in 2001 SF have created a frenzy before it because in a frenzy people will believe anything.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    That’s an interesting point about Finucane ! When did he become a SF Party Member ? or how was he selected by the SF North Belfast Constituency Branch ?

  • mickfealty

    That’s instant gratification for you. As the Scouse say, there’s nothing down for the SDLP of it just leaps into the pocket of its rival for safety.

    Of course, there will be a financial cost to losing Al, but given the way the game now lies he’s far from dead. Especially if the Hanna machine can be persuaded to come out this time (there’s a degree of self interest involved this time, given the sub par result in March).

  • Granni Trixie

    I would love to know how this happens in practice given “everybody” with SF connections seems to jump to in language tandem. Do they get an email? A whisper in the ear?

  • Karl

    Brexit wont be a factor until the outcome of negotiations is known. Similarly to the British electorate, Brexit voters are doubling down with the DUP because not to would be them admitting they got in wrong (not many people do that until they have to) and some misguided notion that the DUP will get the best Brexit deal for NI – I appreciate the irony (not the most apt word) of voting for Brexit and then fighting for the ‘best deal’.. Its a tacit acknowledgement that Brexit will be painful but support of the union trumps all for some. Im not sure DUP voters fully get it.

    Anyway, while Brexit wont be a big factor for this election, it will be for the next. You will have NI society mimicking the eastern bloc like Serbia where the old guard conservatives see the EU as eroding their hold on power and young people looking to the EU as the route to a better life. The question is will unionist youth agitate for change or emigrate to the EU leaving the old guard in power.

    The harder the Brexit the more inclined the greens and alliance will be to vote for EU via UI. 2021 census will show, 45% Catholic, 42% Protestant, 13% Meh. Nationalist turnout will surge when the Brexit terms are known. Nationalists may not want to fight for a romantic version of UI with no guarantee of prosperity but they will for the EU which will underwrite all that the Tories are about to take away.

    2022, fittingly, will be the last Westminster election in NI.

  • Granni Trixie

    You’re all heart.

  • Karl

    Its got to be marketing courses they all have to attend. What was Arlenes? Creeping Republican Agenda.
    I hope they all use the same agency and pass each other by in the corridors going to their approved vocab sessions

  • Jag

    There’s another saying Mick, that a week is a long time in politics. You’re right, the Hanna machine in S Belfast is predictably impressive. But so also is Mairty and his team. I honestly think Mairty will only be happy in Stormont and isn’t overly enthusiastic about this campaign.

    There’s flux for the SDLP in N Belfast. The can conveniently sit this one out, get their ducks in a row for the next election (mightn’t be too far off!) and we end up with four pro-EU anti-Brexit MPs in the capital of this place.

  • Karl

    Its a light panaché, shandy type stuff. It keeps me even. The last line, I admit is wishful thinking but not beyond the bounds of possibility. I still maintain Brexit will hit NI v hard and it will be only after the deal is worked out and the ramifications known will the electorate on both sides wake up and in the immortal words of Penfold say ‘Crumbs’
    Some will maintain their stance, but I think enough will change their minds about the union to make a change.

  • the keep

    They maybe many things but being progressive isn’t one of them.

  • the keep

    You mean 3 Nationalist MP`s and 1 Alliance MP if you are being honest.

  • Karl

    This election has been specifically called so that theyre wont be any vote on the deal May gets. A majority of 18 may have seen some defections and the possibility of a vote. Her new majority of a 100+ ensures the Houses of Commons cannot influence the negotiations and the outcome of Brexit.
    The SNPs seats wont be worth the leathers so it hardly matters who doesnt turn up from NI

  • T.E.Lawrence

    That’s good – you had me worried there ! You normally throw up some good posts but the last line went way off the radar !

  • Jag

    Seriously, wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference if it was Green Party or UUP (when they were anti-Brexit). And not PBP, who are anti-EU but pro-nationalist.

    So, no!

  • Karl

    If its only the last line you’re concerned with, welcome to the fold. You can have a real beer.

  • mickfealty

    They aren’t that complacent. Folk I talk to aren’t against pacts on principle anymore. But a pact has to grow the brand rather than diminish it.

  • mickfealty

    This may well be the last time SF offers a pact on these limited grounds. I hope it is. Nationalism cannot grow with these beggar thy neighbour tactics that fail to grow the overall footprint.

    On Finucane, as they say: handsome is as handsome does.

  • Jag

    ” But a pact has to grow the brand rather than diminish it.”

    Or, given the precise circumstances in this election, it has to maintain the brand rather than diminish it.

  • Jag

    “handsome is as handsome does”

    What saying applies to Nigel Dodds?!

  • Karl

    They dont recognise the legitimacy of the parliament. They think it sends a more powerful message for 1/3 of NI to return people who take that option rather than to have 0.75% of the votes in that parliament .

  • mickfealty

    It’s a risk, certainly. But what’s been diminishing the brand for years has been its unwillingness to take even minor risks with the electorate.

  • mickfealty

    Don’t go there.

  • WindowLean

    Durkan and Ritichie are pretty safe, I’m predicting Pengelly will scrape home in SB by perhaps a handful of votes.

  • Karl

    Nationalism in not going to rise above 45%. There is no growing nationalism per se.

    The battle now is for
    Turnout – Brexit and DUP social skills guarantee that
    Key winnables – seats from unionism – NB, UB, Belfast CC, popular vote
    Persuading the liberal centre – Marriage equality, Women rights, Brexit

    2019 makes all things possible.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    That’s an interesting point about the Hanna machine ! I also got the impression last time round that this contingent did not put it all in for Big Al ? As you say it is a different ball game now ?

  • mickfealty

    Just hold yer Trojan Horses just a wee minute. ? Do you really think that the Centre ground is really that thick?

  • Karl

    On the same basis that 40% of the French electorate held their noses and voted for Macron, the centre will pick SF and UI/EU over DUP and a 6,000 year old earth.

    As a liberal centrist, what else could they do?

    Once theres a UI, peoples reason for voting SF disappears. It may have longer legs than UKIP but you can be sure that it’ll go back to the 10% range over 32 counties.

  • Karl

    Any bookies giving you odds on that?

  • Jag

    Yes, SDLP are on 5/4 or 1.25/1 to be precise. DUP are on 13/8 or 1.63/1 to be precise. They’re practically neck-and-neck. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/48832adbe6978310d231074d8cbbb7b26de224b488e78e57d40d954a289d49ae.jpg

  • mickfealty

    That’s just the constitution of De Gaulle’s Fifth Republic doing it’s proper work. We have other protections (such as the Belfast Agreement) against such banal tyranny here.

    Liberal centrists of NI have shown little appetite for backing NI’s answer to Tony Soprano (a guy dumb enough to have told them the items you mention were a Trojan agenda, from his own horse’s mouth).

  • Karl

    NIs set up looks to remain Green or Orange. In 20 years there has been no centrist breakthrough. This means, like in the French system, the centre has 3 options, back the green side, back the orange side or abstain.
    Abstention in effect however, backs the stronger side, so the centre , because of neiher side having a majority, regardless of its wishes will still be playing a crucial role.
    Therefore, I dont see how the centre can avoid having to make their choice one way or the other.
    Tony will be replaced by a clean pair of hands soon and the progressive liberals agenda will be more in tune, whether they like it or not with SF/UI/EU.
    The liberals will be holding their nose, but like it or not, they will be the deciding factor.

  • Brian Walker

    All this as usual is a series of inter- and intra sectarian battles without a cause. Is there really anything new here? We could be on the brink of nuclear war and it would be same old, same old. Why not just be honest and call it the numbers game? The narrower the majority the finer the calculations. By being forced to plump for life or sudden death in first past the post, makes the calculations starker than for STV.

    Eastwood is being brave but I don’t really understand him. It boils down to this as far as I can see from far away.
    Is there a substantial soft nationalist/ middle ground constituency that can resist the onward march of SF? How much does it rely on unionist tactical voting? I still don’t know what the SDLP stands for. SF astutely use of the the language of equality respect, goodwill to create an appealing vision of a new Ireland that strikes a loud chord and drowns out the dark side of the legacy.

    Promising to ask two questions at every monthly session of Northern Ireland questions at Westminster is no answer. To be anti- abstentionist and to call for a progressive anti-Brexit at the same time is self-evidently contradictory. To claim to be progressive and continue to back Alastair McDonnell likewise.

    The obvious niche for the SDLP is to differentiate more sharply and accuse the SF of being wreckers, expose their largely phoney “ respect” agenda and seek Dublin support as the northern party of constructive nationalism. Do they dare to do that? They’#d need to see some DUP progress first. Position themselves too as pro-Assembly and therefore pro-north-south to cope with Brexit and urge the unionists to follow them.

    What is the SDLP constituency like these days? The analysis of Foyle in today’s Irish Times is persuasive but anecdotal .
    http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/sinn-f%C3%A9in-seeks-to-pull-off-a-historic-upset-in-foyle-1.3075660

    Equally persuasive is Daithi McKay’s wonderfully entitled “Ferghal McKinney effect” SF will want to punish the SDLP at the next Assembly election if there is one, unless the SDLP’s support is firm and distinct . Which begs the question….

  • Karl

    Pretty sure partition is the cause. Without it none of this exists.

  • mickfealty

    Extraordinarily well phrased Hugh.

  • mickfealty

    That’s true, but it’s slightly out of date when a SF dFM (quite properly) is prepared to go to Windsor Castle to meet the Queen, and when he draws his wage from said head of state.

    Even Gerry has gone out of his way to tell us it’s a position, not a principle. A super majority for the Tories is likely, but a hard ride in the next few years with decent Labour leadership could turn things on a sixpence.

    Besides, can anyone tell me what a SF actually does?

  • Nordie Northsider

    “In the process the SDLP vote crashed from 14.8 to 7.6% and has never really recovered since.”
    Except it did. They got 12% in the last Assembly elections and won a seat.

  • Karl

    You have mentioned it and Mick referred to the Trojan horses earlier. I genuinely dont get it.
    Surely SF chose equality as a battleground for a number of reasons, all of them reasonable from a political point of view and essential from a social point of view. They live in a society where life is skewed towards one side. They know unionists will look unreasonable by objecting. Seems to make perfect sense to me.

    Nationalist councils rotate offices
    SF have met the Queen
    SF have attended British Army commemorations for WWI
    Marriage equality

    Unionists refuse to rotate offices on their councils
    Unionists facilitate bulgarian presidential elections but object to Irish ones

    What am I missing? Why is SFs drive for equality deemed so much worse than unionist discrimination?

  • Croiteir

    Neither did I, the dark side of me rears its head

  • Croiteir

    I agree Mick, this is not about seats, it is about numbers, the more votes the nats get the closer to a border poll we get, castle of stones and castle of bones, although you may argue that a pact and the prospect of winning a seat will get more votes out

  • Stephen Warke

    With the campaign SF ran in South Belfast in March 2017, its fair to suggest they will slice into Al’s slender majority. With this in mind there’s no reason why Unionism can reject the UUP in favour of the DUP as the Party who can win. Again it’s deeply regrettable and short-sighted of the UUP that they’d rather see the SDLP returned than a Unionist – new leader, same poor decision making.

  • Karl

    He paid his taxes in that state as well. Government largesse isnt derived from a magic money tree.
    Decent labour leadership isnt going to be able to do much with 150 divided MPs
    The last line shows up your lack of argument. You wouldnt ask the same question for other parties not represented at Westmnster ie the Greens or Alliance. Whatever they do, more than 500,000 people vote for them.

  • Roger

    Wow. 5 years till the last election. Put a year in it then. Cession by 2024?

  • Karl

    I suspect there will be a longer transitional arrangement and probably joint authority for a period with the US and the EU as guarantors while the economy is reoriented.

  • Roger

    Joint Authority. Something ruled out under Belfast Agreement. So you expect a new agreement in the next 5 to 10 years too ?

  • Karl

    The Belfast Agreement died when St Andrews was signed, just nobody knew it. There wont be another agreement like the GFA that brings all parties together to hammer out a fudge to prolong the status quo.

  • mickfealty

    The great leader’s own words?

  • mickfealty

    NI political betting markets are a great place for scooping easy cash, but I think as we stand, this is pretty much where it’s at.

  • hollandia

    Comparing apples with oranges. In FST the SDLP got 9.8% in march. In the 2015 GE they got 5.4%. Because in FPTP your vote can have a negative effect on other candidates as well as a positive one, which is not the same in PR elections. Also in the last assembly election they lost their seat. Because Daithi is talking specifically about FST in the section you quoted.

  • Nordie Northsider

    You’re spot on about the MLA, of course (doh!), but there is a point here. What Daithí said was that the SDLP vote had never really recovered from its low of 7.6%. The implication is that Nationalists wouldn’t return to the SDLP, such was their anger at their vote-splitting. While I realise that FPTP elections and PR elections are different beasts, the fact that the SDLP recouped most of their former support undermines the argument.

  • Colin Lamont

    Agreed. I got Durham at 4/6 which to my mind are tremendously generous odds

  • hollandia

    But they haven’t recouped most of their support either. They’ve recouped less than half of it (30.055% to be precise). Going from 14.8% to 7.6% to a high in a PR election of 9.8%. Whether they’re being punished for letting Tom Elliot in last time, or that nationalists prefer the SF candidates to the SDLP one, I don’t know. This election will tell us a lot.

  • Nordie Northsider
  • Granni Trixie

    What’s regrettable is UUP indecisiveness, pact on, pact off…half pact…

  • Daragh

    I’m not sure if your interpretation of his words are deliberately misleading or not. Just for clarification purposes his words referred to the ‘bigots, homophobes and racists’ that he was asked about in the question. That you break those people with equality, which I am sure is something most people would agree with.
    Your interpretation is straight from the DUP that it was all Unionists he was talking about. So my question to you Mick is, why do you think all Unionists are ‘bigots, homophobes and racists?’ And if you don’t think that could you insert the context necessary to reflect what was actually said in future. Thanks

  • Granni Trixie

    “Come back home Mick, all is forgiven” …have you forgotten what it’s like here ..whatever the intention, pacts in Ni tend to feed sectarian impulses and degenerate into orange and green.

  • mickfealty

    Indeed. It’s usually some class of succubus action by the larger on the smaller. But framed in non sectarian terms it could work, I guess.

  • mickfealty

    Nice one.

  • Katyusha

    Do you think the “liberal” centre would rather shelve any commitment to marriage equality, abortion rights and a sensible attitude to Brexit in order to keep the Shinners out?

    If that’s the case, they’re not very liberal or centrist at all, are they? Well, it’s questionable if a centre ground exists in NI politics at all, but we always knew that. If the vote breaks upon sectarian lines when faced with a challenge, then it is still tribal no matter how mild-mannered and urbane people are.

  • james

    It is interesting, isn’t it. As amusing as it is to imagine some Adams underling sending out an email reminding the faithful to all use the phrase “left the stage” or whatever, I doubt if that actually occurs.

    I’d say it’s a much more banal process where, as happens with Premier League footballers, there’s just not an awful lot of creative thinking goes on – and the alarming eagerness to conform simply manifests itself it a lot of devotees clambering over each other to repeat phrases verbatim from public statements by the high ups.

    Of course, when one sees the disasterous consequences of some over-eager followers being allowed to publically air their own thoughts (like Michelle Gildernew’s misguided, foul-mouthed tribute to the new Dear Leader in Northern Ireland, MON: “By God, she’ll take no sh***”) one can see why most of them limit themselves to mere repitition of mantras. Even O Neill herself rarely seems to say anything she has come up with herself.

  • hollandia

    You’re looking at the NI wide SDLP vote. Not the FST SDLP vote.

    Ritchie Mc Phillips garnered 5137 votes out of 52,263 – or 9.83%.

  • mac tire

    “Besides, can anyone tell me what a SF actually does?”

    The exact same as every other party except speak in the Chamber. Or do you actually think speaking in the Chamber is the only thing an MP does?

    Don’t bother going down the road of voting in the Chamber because we know it makes no difference to the overall vote. If you insist on it, however, we can then go through the voting records of each MP from the north to see where they actually stand on the issues that matter, not the personalities you seem hung up on.

  • mickfealty

    So you say. But there’s no accounting for a non sitting MP in the way we can tell with one who does take their seat.

    I’m quite fond of Pat Doherty, whom I generally have a bit of crack with at the Embassy in London every Christmas time.

    But I’ve no clue how much time he even spends in West Tyrone, or how much of his case work is not done by Barry.

    To whom congratulations in advance are in order for finally getting the recognition he deserves…

  • mac tire

    So if he was talking about Unionists, lay out how you think Adams thinks equality would break them?
    In your answer you can tease out how this will affect a Unionist from, say, Portadown. You can then explain how it affects, say, a Catholic Unionist from ND (or anywhere else). I take it you see all Unionists as Unionists, irrespective of their religion/cultural background.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Spot on with missing the trick with Finucane. And not only in NB.

  • mac tire

    “To whom congratulations in advance are in order for finally getting the recognition he deserves…”

    Revenge, Mick. Britain gave us Brexit, ’tis only fair we retaliate by giving them Barry. 😉

  • Tochais Siorai

    They look like Italian GAA results!

    Viva il catenaccio!

  • New Yorker

    If they do not recognize the legitimacy of the parliament but run for seats they do not intend to hold it sends a message to the wider world that they are mere pranksters. How can you claim to represent your voters if you don’t show up for the job? If there is any logic to their position, it escapes me.

  • Karl

    Is voting in parliament 100% of the job?
    Also if you stand on that platform and you are returned by a democratic votw then you have a mandate not to attend that parliament.
    You’re not a prankster but a democrat because your views won under the electoral rules. Your views are in essence anti democratic.

  • Vince

    Completely right on North Belfast. The only non-Nigel Dodds candidate that could win there is an independent one. As I have said on here before, Colum Eastwood’s suggestion re independent candidates in NB, ED, and FST was sound and astute.

    I’m afraid that Daithi, as an erstwhile SF MLA and leading light, is just pushing the usual party line.

  • Vince

    Slightly off topic but does Michelle Gildernew really want to be an MP rather than an MLA? And would SF really take 3 Assembly seats there if her name was not on the ballot paper? Why haven’t SF pulled out of EB, SB & SA to help defeat DUP candidates if they feel this way? Why not support an independent candidate against Gregory Campbell?

    I’m afraid this article and SF’s utterances confirm that they have adopted the DUP’s awful “Smash Sinn Fein” slogan from the 1980’s to their own needs – “Smash the SDLP”. Sad they can’t see how counter-productive it would be should they be successful.

  • Jimmy

    The reality is that in the Assembly election earlier this year there was very little between Sinn Fein and SDLP in South Belfast. I’m no supporter of Sinn Fein but I understand why they wouldn’t want to stand aside in a constituency they feel they have an outside chance in.

  • Mark Petticrew

    I see the north’s so-called middle ground as being primarily to do with the cultural spectrum of northern politics; two forms of nationalism – Irish and British – at either end, with the least nationalistic of northerners being placed at the centre of it.

    Though one may be a cultural centrist if I can call it that, they may not be so centrist when it comes to social or economic policy. For instance, Gerry Carroll isn’t the most nationalistic type, but he’s very much on the red end of the economic spectrum. Indeed, the SDLP is considered to be a middle-ground nationalist party, and yet it is Sinn Féin that is closer to the centre when it comes to abortion.

  • New Yorker

    Voting is not 100% of the job. MPs are on committees, attend various events including social and get to know other members. I don’t believe SF do any of those things so they are only no shows collecting expenses or pranksters.

    ‘A mandate not to attend’ is an absurdity.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    What’s really disappointing is the mentality and culture that is entrenched within unionism that ‘any unionist’ is better than one of themuns.

    E.g.I wish to see a more Northern Irish northern Ireland and if that meant hashing out a deal with the SDLP then fine (given that the DUP are more about us being Little Britain rather than Northern Ireland), it won’t affect the outcome of a border poll one jot.

  • Smithborough

    “What’s really disappointing is the mentality and culture that is entrenched within unionism that ‘any unionist’ is better than one of themuns.”

    Nationalists generally do this too, but they wrap it up in lots of hypocritical waffle about being “progressive”.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Whether they do or don’t is irrelevant to my point, I’m sick of unionism selling itself short on account of what themuns may or not be doing. (Forgive the tone, it’s obviously not your fault and I don’t wish to sound as if I’m singling you out.)