This should be a very tight race for the final seat. SF consistantly get just below 3 quotas with the 2nd SDLP candidate very much in the running, and only needing a swing of a couple of hundred votes or more transfers from the unionist surplus. Justin McNulty may just push SDLP over the line if standing. On the unionist side I expect to see the UUP pull well ahead to the point where running a 2nd candidate to knock out the DUP is possible. Early prediction: SF 40% 2 seats SDLP 25% 2 seats UUP 21% 1seat DUP 11% 1seat Others 3%
One of two Sinn Fein seats which are under threat to the SDLP, Mickey Brady would have lost here in 2011 if the SDLP had had a more balanced ticket, in the end he was ahead of SDLP2 by 600 votes, 478 undistributed SDLP votes make the margin closer.
Their big hitter Conor Murphy is standing again after a few years of musical chairs between here and the assembly. His candidacy isn’t necessarily a good thing; the Sinn Fein vote has remained above 40% (just below 3 quotas) in every election since 2005, even running a sub-par candidate like Brady last year. In 2011 Murphy took 48% of the Sinn Fein vote which led to Brady’s near loss, he can’t hog the vote as much this time. Boylan is safe here too, being the only nationalist candidate from the former Armagh council district part of the constituency.
Fearon is the one at risk of losing, before being co-opted she was completely unknown having just finished university. Her territory is South Armagh, Murphy’s previous territory before leaving the assembly. Has she done enough groundwork in the past four years to get a decent bulk of the Sinn Fein vote here, or will she end up with a similar FPV as Brady in 2011?
SDLP Karen McKevitt – MLA for South Down (2011 – 2016) Justin McNulty
The party must see this as a good chance of a gain transferring a neighbouring MLA in and running a high profile GAA player, which I can’t disagree with, they would have got two seats in 2011 if retiring MLA Dominic Bradley hadn't hogged 65% of their vote. Moving McKevitt over is a smart move, her ‘area’ in South Down borders Newry so she will be recognisable being in the local papers and active in campaigns concerning Newry over the years. McNulty is a former Gaelic Football player for Armagh who stood for the party in last year’s Westminster elections. His vote was disappointing here, increasing by less than 1% with a weak Sinn Fein opponent standing, though this may have been a reaction against the unionist pact. The SDLP vote has stayed steady at 22-24% since 2010, they should do better this time with two strong candidates, their main obstacle is their vote needs to be well balanced (or the Sinn Fein vote to be extremely unbalanced) to win two.
UUP Danny Kennedy – MLA (1998 - ) Sam Nicholson – Armagh Councillor (2014 - )
This was the only constituency where the UUP out polled the DUP in 2011, results since then have only affirmed their dominance, almost doubling the DUP vote in the 2014 local elections. If the electoral system was a closed list system (like the one for the 1996 forum) the UUP would have a good chance of getting both unionist seats here, but Kennedy is too well known for an effective vote balancing strategy.
DUP William Irwin – MLA (2007 - )
A likely contender for the most anonymous DUP MLA, part of the reason the UUP were given this in the election pact last year was the likely poor performance Irwin would have in my view. Will get re-elected easily, even if the UUP gets twice the DUP vote it won’t be balanced enough for this to be at risk. Things may have been very different had this scandal with their previous MLA been swept under the rug.
UKIP Alan Love
Love was a candidate in Lagan Valley last year. Will get the 600-1,000 votes hard-line unionists usually get in the area.
Alliance Craig Weir
Will do a bit worse than the 700-800 votes of the past few years with the Greens standing. Another constituency where the local party is non-existent, having to import a candidate from the Greater Belfast area to stand.
Green Michael Watters
Received 600 votes in 2007 and beat Alliance, will they avoid the wooden spoon prize again?
2 Sinn Fein, 2 SDLP, 1 UUP, 1 DUP
This constituency sums up quite a lot of disadvantages of STV, the nationalist seat at risk of changing is based more on how the parties calculate how many wards to give to candidates. While an anonymous DUP MLA can survive only due to one of the UUP candidates being so well known. I'm predicting an SDLP gain based on the groundwork they’re putting in here, but I may be wrong, they always seem to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory here.
Berry Paul (Independent) Boylan Cathal Damian (Sinn Fein) Crossan Emmet (Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol) Fearon Megan (Sinn Fein) Irwin William George (DUP) Kennedy Danny (UUP) Love Alan (UKIP) McAllister Martin (Independent) McKevitt Karen (SDLP) McNulty Justin (SDLP) Murphy Conor (Sinn Fein) Nicholson Sam (UUP) Watters Michael (Green Party) Weir Craig (Alliance)
Former DUP MLA from 1998 until a controversy involving a male masseur in a Belfast Hotel led to him being deselected by the party in 2007, he stood as an Anti-St Andrews agreement candidate then, polling just under 5%. He's held onto his council seat since then as an independent getting just under 2,000 votes in 2014. Another headache for the DUP, Irwin is one of their most anonymous politicians being responsible for a steady decline in the DUP vote since. He should hold on in the end after having to sweat it out for a few counts, the UUP have a very, very slim chance of taking two but that's only in a perfect storm of Irwin doing terribly and Kennedy not hogging too much of the vote. Not much information about the campaign of the other Independent McAllister, from a Google search he's former IRA and Crossmaglen based and was involved in Fiana Fail around 2010, a headache for SF here especially as their most vulnerable MLA here Fearon is Crossmaglen/South Armagh based. Isn't in contention for a seat but no idea otherwise how he will do.
2 SF, 2 SDLP, 1 UUP, 1 DUP.
The SDLP2/SF3 seat depends on how well each party balances their candidates. The SDLP have historically been poor at this here missing out on 3 seats in 1998 and 2 in 2003 and 2011. Moving McKevitt here and having a high profile name like McNulty on the ballot will help them and highlights that they see this as one of their best targets.
Post by irish observer on May 1, 2016 22:36:33 GMT
2 Unionist seats will remain. SF have a definite 2 and McNulty is in my opinion the most likely to win a seat for the SDLP. Bradley, who was a good MLA, having retired has reduced the chances of a second SDLP seat. I do not see McKevitt having a great appeal across this area though I recognise she served on Newry & Mourne but did not represent any of these council areas as a Cllr. Heart would like a second SDLP seat but head says SF will hold 3. Prediction: 3SF; 1SDLP; 1UUP; 1DUP.
DUP William Irwin 7,980 Sinn Féin Megan Fearon 6,838 Sinn Féin Cathal Boylan 6,822 Sinn Féin Conor Murphy 5,854 UUP Danny Kennedy 4,904 SDLP Justin McNulty 4,775 SDLP Karen McKevitt 3,923 UUP Sam Nicholson 1,841 Ind Paul Berry 1,663 CISTA Emmet Crossan 1,032 Ind Martin McAllister 940 Alliance Craig Weir 493 Green Michael Watters 335 UKIP Alan Love 315
Sinn Féin 19,514 40.90% SDLP 8,698 18.23% DUP 7,980 16.72% UUP 6,745 14.14% Ind 1,663 3.49% CISTA 1,032 2.16% Ind 940 1.97% Alliance493 1.03% Green 335 0.70% UKIP 315 0.66%
Very impressive vote balancing from Sinn Fein, their big hitter Murphy has been managed down to the last Sinn Fein candidate. The SDLP vote declined so couldn't have won two anyway. Huge swing to the DUP from UUP here, this was the only constituency in 2011 where the UUP vote was greater than the DUP so disappointing to go back.