As Unionism across Northern Ireland licks its collective wounds, what next?

As Unionism across Northern Ireland licks its collective wounds after a devastating Westminster election, I wanted to focus on two crucial battlegrounds where political Unionism acted in an unacceptable manner, namely North Belfast and Fermanagh and South Tyrone (FST). Both battles were on paper, good old-fashioned knockdown and drag-out fights involving a single Unionist candidate against the might of the old foe – Sinn Fein. Unionism approached both campaigns in a very different manner but the outcome was the same …

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So who will take the fall in Sinn Fein’s secret vote management strategy for FST?

So here’s something to keep an eye on when the votes are counted. Julian Fowler has news of Sinn Fein’s vote management strategy in FST: ie it is to be a total secret between Sinn Fein’s election workers and its voters. As most of you with longish memories will remember, things in Fermanagh South Tyrone SF did not go according to plan in the selection process. So according to Fowler… Sinn Féin won three assembly seats in 2011 and this …

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Fermanagh South Tyrone: one day a unionist will stand on that stage as victor.

As a number of people have noted 5 years ago I did a blog in the aftermath of Rodney Connor’s defeat in Fermanagh South Tyrone. Many unionists (like myself) were disconsolate. Many unionists and nationalists regarded FST as lost to unionism forever. It had in Gildernew a relatively young MP who had just been re elected for the second time; a unionist pact had failed to defeat her and the greening of the west had almost completed, threatening to bring …

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The message for unionists: pacts work

One of the critical points in this election for unionists was in March 2013. That was when Martin McGuinness stood down as MP and in the ensuing election Francie Molloy was elected. Nigel Lutton (whose father Frederick had been murdered by the IRA and Molloy connected with that murder in the House of Commons by the DUP’s David Simpson) stood as a united unionist candidate. That resulted in a modest increase in the unionist vote which Mike Nesbitt claimed as …

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Tom Elliott takes Fermanagh South Tyrone…

Tom Elliott, UUP

With a majority of 530 votes Tom Elliot from the UUP took the seat from Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew. The SDLP candidate John Coyle got 2,732. Was it the wrong decision for the SDLP not to do an election pact with SF? Let us know your views in the comments. Brian O'NeillI help keep the good ship Slugger afloat by managing the business and techy stuff.

Fifty Shades of Green – a possible unionist comeback in Fermanagh and South Tyrone

The date was the 9th of June 1983. The Police were top of the UK charts with “Every Breath You Take”, Pioneer 10 was passing the orbit of Neptune to become the first man-made object to leave the major planets of the Solar System, and Ken Maginnis of the UUP took the Westminster seat of Fermanagh and South Tyrone from Owen Carron of Sinn Féin. Owen Carron had won the seat in a 1981 by-election following the death of Anti …

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Unionist Pact still possible

The saga of whether or not there will be a unionist pact continues with Mike Nesbitt suggesting that he may still be open to an agreement. He stated: “Without a deal, without an understanding there is a real prospect there could be no unionist representing the capital city of Northern Ireland in Westminster on the 8th May,” he said. “With a deal, who knows? Maybe three of the four could be unionist but they can’t all be DUP.” The seats …

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What’s all this #fracking nonsense then Arlene?

Mention money and land and someone, almost anyone, in the DUP and some people get very excited. But all that’s happened is that 54 acres of her husband’s farm has been included in the vast area in which permission for gas exploration may be sought: As previously noted by Andy, the area under consideration is potentially huge: “the North West Ireland Carboniferous Basin in counties Leitrim, Sligo, Cavan, Donegal and Fermanagh.” I’ve looked at what it means before but it’s …

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Boundary Review: Fermanagh and the two Tyrones…

So, partly at a suggestion of Andrew and Drumlin’s on the previous thread we’re starting way out west with a less politicially controversial pair of constituencies than those which have already featured in the news. So we begin by looking at Fermanagh and South Tyrone with the new constituency of Mid Tyrone. FST first (map). Here’s the Commission’s notes: The electorate of the Fermanagh and South Tyrone constituency at the review date was 68,979, which is more than 7,000 below the …

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Fermanagh South Tyrone election reaches court

The ongoing row over Michelle Gildernew’s election as Fermanagh / South Tyrone MP is due to reach the courts today. Rodney Connor is claiming there were breaches of the statutory rules and is seeking a scrutiny of the votes, a recount and a determination that Ms Gildernew was not duly elected. The victorious Sinn Fein candidate insists, however, that she was properly returned last month by the people of Fermanagh and South Tyrone as their MP. Connor claims to have …

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General Election 2010 – Sinn Féin

With 25.5% of the vote SF beat the DUP by 3,700 to get the highest vote of all parties (helped, of course, by DUP absence in FST and North Down). That’s the first time ever in General Elections. (One of the things you wonder about late at night is what would have happened in 1921 with today’s demography?)

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The Steeples stay at home

Probably the single most striking fact about the 2010 General Election was the turnout in Fermanagh South Tyrone.

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Fermanagh Fleadh

The Fermanagh Fleadh was held this weekend in the village of Derrygonnelly. A largely good time seems to have been had by all with the assorted music competitions enjoyed by all. There was also a procession of various floats, cars and motorbikes. Unfortunately there was a bit of controversy when one float contained a joke float of cash machine raiders “Coming to a Town near you.” The “raiders” wearing balaclavas and carrying pretend guns proceeded to dismount the float and …

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FST challenge destined to fail?

The last time a Unionist attempted to have a court overturn an electoral declaration in Fermanagh South Tyrone was when James Cooper (UUP) failed in his challenge over the 2001 result where he was defeated by 53 votes. At the time Justice Carswell agreed there had been irregularities at a polling station in Garrison but rejected the appeal: That said, the issue which we as an election court have to decide is whether the election in the constituency of Fermanagh …

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FST redux – the defeated

Thanks to Aldous Duke we have something most didn’t get hear on election day: Rodney Connor’s ungracious defeat speech – taking time to round on Douglas Bain and threaten legal options -how many other candidates didn’t congratulate the victor, praise the count staff etc? A humilated Fearghal McKinney attacking unionism for not offering ‘choice’. Blank

Gildernew victory after 3rd recount

After the tightest of votes and three recounts Michelle Gildernew has taken Fermanagh South Tyrone. Declaration made on Radio Ulster. Gildernew 21304 – Connor 21300 McKinney 3574 / Vasundhara Kamble 437 / John Stevenson 188 Blank

Quote of the day…

Heard in Fermanagh South Tyrone… Martin Ferris (TD, Kerry) catches up with Ferghal McKinney and informs him, “You don’t even live in the constituency”… Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

Slugger reader predictions – latest

We’ve had 49 replies to our Prediction Competition so far*. Averaging the results, we’re collectively predicting a turnout of 61.8%, and the votes cast divide up as follows (rounded up to one decimal place): SF: 25.6% DUP: 23.5% UCUNF: 17.9% SDLP: 16.2% Alliance: 5.2% TUV: 7.3% Others: 4.2% What does this tell us? It isn’t polling evidence, and there’s no weighting (bookies have the benefit of knowing a bit about strength of sentiment because it’s hard-earned cash backing predictions). But …

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