Election battlegrounds #LE19 : Oldpark

Oldpark is a six seater that returned 3 SF 1 DUP 1 PUP and 1 SDLP in 2014.

This DEA in Belfast City Council could have produced a shock result last time around when Independent Dee Fennell produced a strong first preference vote to challenge the SDLP’s Nichola Mallon. Mallon, who pulled ahead in the latter stages of that count to take the seat was replaced on the council by Paul McCusker in 2016 who is standing for the party this time around.

3 Sinn Féin and 1 DUP are certain, the last 2 seats less so.

As Chris mentions here Sinn Féin are eyeing up taking a fourth seat here which would probably be at the expense of the SDLP. However that will require careful balancing and an increase in first preferences. Sinn Féin had 3.1 quotas in 2014 compared to 0.6 of a quota for the SDLP.

In addition to sitting councillors Mary Clarke, JJ Magee and Ryan Murphy Sinn Féin are putting forward their north Belfast constituency manager Shauneen Baker.

Similarly the DUP will be aiming to take a seat off the PUP’s Julie-Anne Corr-Johnston.

Corr-Johnston will be boosted by incumbency and a stronger profile – being the party’s North Belfast candidate in the last Assembly election. However if theres any swing towards the DUP and they balance between Pankhurst and Simpson-Kelly reasonably well this will be a potential gain.

The TUV are not fielding here as they did in 2014 and securing a good percentage of those voters and second preferences from the UUP will be crucially important for Corr-Johnston.

People Before Profit’s Fiona Ferguson is the dark horse in this race. The party’s tallymen and women are presumably basing this on the opened boxes from the last Assembly election as PBP have not stood in a council election here before and therefore we are deprived of a comparable baseline. 

There is no Fennell on the ballot paper this time around nor RNU candidate and between them in 2014 they brought in 0.7 of a quota.  

The big question is who will those voters choose to represent them this time? Ferguson will be working to pick up a lot of these votes and will hope that transfers from the Workers Party and others can take them above the SDLP and Sinn Féin’s lowest candidate.

The SDLP are standing just 10 candidates in Belfast, down from 15 in 2014 and PBP are seeking to get an important seconder into the council alongside their rep from Black Mountain. This is therefore an important battle for them both and they will have to fend off a resurgent Sinn Féin that are in a much stronger position in North Belfast than they were in 2014.