Election battlegrounds #LE19 : Omagh

One of the most interesting polls will be this one in Fermanagh and Omagh District Council. This 6 seater returned 2 SF 2 SDLP 1 DUP and 1 UUP in 2014.

However much has changed since then! This time around the 2 SDLP Councillors elected previously, Joanne Donnelly and Dr Josephine Deehan, are standing as Independents as is one of the Sinn Féin Councillors elected 5 years ago Sorcha McAnespy. McAnespy is now a Fianna Fáil member but is unable to stand under their flag this time around. Ironically though she will be fighting Fianna Fáil’s northern partners the SDLP for a seat here.

Sinn Féin had 2.6 quotas last time out, the SDLP had 1.6. Sinn Féin will be confident that running Barry McElduff in this DEA will help them attract more votes to take the 3 seats. Vote management will be important though and having 2 sitting councillors, Martin McColgan and Ann Marie Fitzgerald running with McElduff rather than fresh faces may help in this regard.

Dr Josephine Deehan has been a councillor in Omagh for 18 years and is expected to do well. That will pose a significant challenge to the SDLP especially if her first preference vote brings the SDLP down to under a quota between their two candidates Jacinta McKeown and Lee Hawkes.

Errol Thompson and Chris Smyth would be expected to take a seat each for the DUP and UUP respectively.

This is also one of Alliance’s main prospects of a seat west of the Bann with their West Tyrone representative Stephen Donnelly seeking to build on the 0.4 quota the party got here in 2014. As there are 16 standing in this DEA compared to 10 in 2014 a shredded nationalist vote plus an increased first preference could put him in the hunt for the last seat.

Aontú, CISTA and the Green Party are also new names on the Omagh ticket.

Sinn Féin will take 2 seats, the UUP and DUP 1 a piece. The last 2 seats will be a dog-fight between Deehan, the SDLP, the 3rd Sinn Féin candidate, Alliance and McAnespy.