Scotland the Brave?

On the 18th of September Scotland will vote for full independence from the UK. The result may have seismic repercussions in this part of the World, The Orange Order have already said they will withdraw from Scotland if a yes vote is passed. BraveheartTheir Scottish “Grand Master” came out with this beauty: “We are primarily a Christian and charitable fraternal organisation, we rarely step into the political arena.”

Without doubt unionism in the north east of Ireland will have a lot of soul searching and re-evaluation to do in the event of a Yes vote.

The never ending series of Belfast Telegraph polls telling us we are all “Northern Irish” now, may have to be revisited. The Scottish act of union 407 years ago allied with 407 years of pro union propaganda has come down to a 3% swing needed in the vote over the last two weeks. That is a narrowing of the gap from a required 7% swing in mid August and a 10% swing a month earlier. The implications for a similar vote here, particularly given the low registration and voting habits of the CNR community are intriguing.

The “Naw” campaign has been about scaremongering, economic fear and exploiting the uncertainty that independence will bring. The reality is that not one of the countries that has gained its independence, ever, has changed its mind. Not one.

“Yes” can win this. Momentum is everything in politics. My call is that they will do it, just. It is a decision for the Scottish people which is why I have made few comments on this so far. I wish them well whatever they choose but I will watch with interest the reaction of Ulster Unionists to the results.

I’ll leave you with the words and music of a Scottish Band and a poll for your thoughts.


Michael Collins and the Czar of Russia

In 1919 Michael Collins was elected as Minister for Finance in the first Dáil Éireann. The first Dáil was convened following the 1918 election at which an overwhelming

Members of the First Dáil, 10 April 1919 First row, left to right: Laurence Ginnell, Michael Collins, Cathal Brugha, Arthur Griffith, Éamon de Valera, Count Plunkett, Eoin MacNeill, W. T. Cosgrave and Ernest Blythe. Kevin O’Higgins is in the third row (right)

majority of the entire Irish people had voted for pro-independence candidates. At the time, Ireland was a backwater of empire, a country without international recognition, sovereign independence or even a line of credit.

The general (sic) consensus is, that with few cards to play, Collins was an outstanding success in this role: “In overall terms, Collins’ performance in Finance was outstanding by any criteria. … Collins’ personal organization skills were exceptional, allowing him to hold four major positions simultaneously, prompting him to impose order and clarity on a world of disorder and confusion. If his unexpected death robbed the state of its most capable administrator, it also denies the historian the opportunity to compare him with his successors in Finance.” Andrew McCarthy

His master stroke was the raising of a National Loan which, with a target of £250,000 actually generated some £400,000 for the fledgling state. This loan was raised from ordinary Irish people, not bankers, not governments, not the IMF nor the European Central Bank.

National-Loan 1919

For a country with only the resources of its people, primarily agricultural in nature and with only its potential to sell, this was a true triumph of confidence on the part of Collins. Indeed at this time Belfast was the industrial centre of Ireland. It had been for some time with the shipyards among the best in the World. There were other industries, of course, such as the Linen mills but these were already in steep decline by 1919.

As for the Czar, (well, the Russian Republic, I plead artistic licence) ordered Ludwig Martens the head of the Soviet Bureau in New York City to acquire a “national loan” from the Irish Republic, offering some of the Russian Crown Jewels as collateral. The jewels remained in a Dublin safe, forgotten by all sides, until the 1930s, when they were found by chance! Perhaps FJH can offer some further information? ;-)

We are all, I am sure, aware of what happened next, partition, independence for most of Ireland and a divergence of economic as well as political fortunes, so where are we now?

Today most of the Island is a dynamic outward looking, open economy with a highly educated, well paid and generally happy population. Yes, I know the past few years have been difficult but, coming from a very high plateau, the fall has been checked and the re-bounce is well underway. As the Irish Times says “Irish people enjoy among the highest quality of life and standard of living in Europe, according to the European Union.” – Well, some of the Irish People at least.

In the north eastern six counties there is a different story to be told. Whatever the rights and wrongs of partition it is, nevertheless, an established historical fact. Both juristictions withdrew into a self regarding political and economic cul de sac from which the south only truly emerged thirty years ago. In the north, that is yet to happen. With the decline of the heavy industries upon which Belfast in particular prided itself the search is still continuing for its place in the economic world.

Is the north east best served as a destination for low wage service companies (eg: call centres) or, like the rest of the country, should it be marketed as a destination for successful, ambitious companies requiring a young, smart, highly educated workforce, a business friendly environment and unfettered access to the wider European economy or should it be constrained by a Daily Mail reading, mostly elderly, backward looking collective of pin striped, bowler hatted, myopic neo-victorians?

One of the most awkward questions of recent years is the level of subvention or subsidy by the colonial paymasters in Westminster. The most interesting point is that there is no solid answer to the actual figure here is the source material. As may be seen from this link the figures are, at best, arbitrary, at worst a best guess. Meanwhile an ongoing argument is engaged regarding Sinn Fein and the DUP regarding welfare reform and the price of implementing a Tory government policy, a Tory govt that was not elected or voted for in any way in this part of the world.

My question is simple, how do we approach, define and challenge this economic question?







Horseman predicts the future

Good evening,

I’ve been quiet of late due to a combination of some number crunching on behalf of nameless third parties, the summer silly season and some domestic stuff of no consequence. At the suggestion of commenter Jon Wallace I’ve begun some WB Yeatsbackground work on continuing Horsemans annual balance sheet analysis for 2014. Enda, over at Endgame in Ulster, has previously done some good work on this here.

The general idea is to analyse demographic changes over the previous year and apply the findings to likely future trends. I’m happy as the proverbial Pig in the brown stuff doing this type of number crunching. The key figures are based around census returns, births, deaths, immigration, emigration, community background and, of course, election results. It may take me a while!

I’d spent a couple of hours on this today when I stumbled upon some interesting conclusions that I thought were worth sharing with you.

The 2001 Census results for community background by age were as following:

Age Band Catholic (%) Protestant (%) Other (%) None (%)
0 to 4 49.1 43.1 0.4 7.4
5 to 9 49.5 44.9 0.3 5.3
10 to 14 50.4 45.3 0.3 4
15 to 19 51.4 45.2 0.3 3.1
20 to 24 49.5 47 0.5 3
25 to 29 46 50.4 0.6 3
30 to 34 44.7 51.9 0.6 2.8
35 to 39 44.6 52.6 0.5 2.4
40 to 44 43.7 54 0.5 1.8
45 to 49 42.2 55.6 0.5 1.7
50 to 54 39.7 58.6 0.4 1.4
55 to 59 36.6 62 0.3 1.1
60 to 64 35.8 63 0.3 0.9
65 to 69 35.1 63.9 0.2 0.7
70 to 74 33.4 65.8 0.2 0.7
75+ 30.2 69.2 0.2 0.4

This, extrapolated to the 2011 census should have led to the following:

2011 BASED ON 2001
Age Band Catholic (%) Protestant (%) Other (%) None (%)
0 to 4
5 to 9
10 to 14 49.1% 43.1% 0.4% 7.4%
15 to 19 49.5% 44.9% 0.3% 5.3%
20 to 24 50.4% 45.3% 0.3% 4.0%
25 to 29 51.4% 45.2% 0.3% 3.1%
30 to 34 49.5% 47.0% 0.5% 3.0%
35 to 39 46.0% 50.4% 0.6% 3.0%
40 to 44 44.7% 51.9% 0.6% 2.8%
45 to 49 44.6% 52.6% 0.5% 2.4%
50 to 54 43.7% 54.0% 0.5% 1.8%
55 to 59 42.2% 55.6% 0.5% 1.7%
60 to 64 39.7% 58.6% 0.4% 1.4%
65 to 69 36.6% 62.0% 0.3% 1.1%
70 to 74 35.8% 63.0% 0.3% 0.9%
75+ 32.9% 66.3% 0.2% 0.6%

The actual 2011 figures were:

Age Band Catholic (%) Protestant (%) Other (%) None (%)
0 to 4 49.2% 36.4% 1.0% 13.4%
5 to 9 49.3% 40.1% 0.8% 9.8%
10 to 14 49.5% 41.9% 0.7% 8.0%
15 to 19 49.0% 42.9% 0.6% 7.5%
20 to 24 48.9% 42.3% 0.8% 7.9%
25 to 29 50.9% 40.7% 1.2% 7.1%
30 to 34 49.7% 42.4% 1.5% 6.4%
35 to 39 46.8% 46.2% 1.3% 5.6%
40 to 44 45.4% 49.4% 1.0% 4.3%
45 to 49 44.7% 50.8% 0.9% 3.6%
50 to 54 43.5% 52.8% 0.8% 2.9%
55 to 59 42.1% 54.5% 0.8% 2.5%
60 to 64 39.2% 57.9% 0.8% 2.1%
65 to 69 36.3% 61.4% 0.8% 1.5%
70 to 74 35.4% 62.8% 0.7% 1.1%
75+ 31.3% 67.2% 0.6% 0.8%

There has been much speculation here and elsewhere regarding the effects of immigration/ emigration and the increasing trend towards secularisation so how far out was Horseman with his predictions? Not a lot is the answer, here is the variation between his predictions and the actual results:

Age Band Catholic (%) Protestant (%) Other (%) None (%)
0 to 4
5 to 9
10 to 14 0.4% -1.2% 0.3% 0.6%
15 to 19 -0.5% -2.0% 0.3% 2.2%
20 to 24 -1.5% -3.0% 0.5% 3.9%
25 to 29 -0.5% -4.5% 0.9% 4.0%
30 to 34 0.2% -4.6% 1.0% 3.4%
35 to 39 0.8% -4.2% 0.7% 2.6%
40 to 44 0.7% -2.5% 0.4% 1.5%
45 to 49 0.1% -1.8% 0.4% 1.2%
50 to 54 -0.2% -1.2% 0.3% 1.1%
55 to 59 -0.1% -1.1% 0.3% 0.8%
60 to 64 -0.5% -0.7% 0.4% 0.7%
65 to 69 -0.3% -0.6% 0.5% 0.4%
70 to 74 -0.4% -0.2% 0.4% 0.2%
75+ -1.6% 0.9% 0.4% 0.2%

My conclusion is that Horseman was incredibly accurate in his predictions. Regarding the Catholic proportion of the election he was accurate to within 1% in all bar two age groups and <1.6% in the exceptions. Regarding the Protestant community he was marginally less accurate but the difference is almost entirely accounted for by the other or none categories. I am yet to hear or see a reasoned argument countering his projections.

As always, it is actual votes that count in the real world. My thinking is that the nationalist electorate is somewhat under represented due to electoral apathy and low turnout. The way to turn that around is possibly to address the economic issues that motivate most people to turn out and vote. Perhaps it is about time for the economic case for a re-united Ireland to be coherently made.

The day the lights went out

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great European war of 1914.

It is right and proper that those who died during that conflict are remembered and their sacrifice recognised. Few families in Britain or Ireland emerged at the conclusion of hostilities four years later quite the same. For families in Germany, France, Belgium and many other countries around the World it was a similar experience. Families are similar the world over, they grieve and worry in just the same way. That war was possibly the last in which armies fought armies. Since 1918 civilian populations seem to have become part of the battlefield. Current events in Gaza are testament enough to that.Western Front

In Ireland, at the time,  there were two distinct lines of thought regarding the outbreak of War. There still are, more of that later.

Under the leadership of the Wexfordman John Redmond, the Irish Parliamentary Party encouraged Irishmen to join up on the premise that a home rule bill would follow as a “reward”. I have a one word response to that which I’ll not publish here. Strangely and conversely, the Dubliner, Edward Carson was encouraging Unionists across the country to do the same on the basis that, guess what, home rule would be prevented on that basis. (There’s a thesis there on the duplicity of the “Welsh Wizard”- Lloyd George)

Anyhow, as I am in danger of embarking upon an historical magical mystery tour, let’s fast forward to today.

Former Taoiseach, John Bruton (Or John Brutal as he was known in past days- Brutal being Dublin slang for useless) had this masterpiece in todays Irish Times. Meanwhile, our President was attending this event in France. In Dublin meanwhile, yesterday, there was this ceremony in Glasnevin cemetary of all places. As my Dad would have said, graves (nearby)  must have been spinning at a rate of knots.

I sense an attempt at rewriting history. A revisionism and redrawing of the maps of history. Much of it is writ large  on the pages of William Martin Murphys old propoganda organ, the infamous “Indo” or Irish Independent. It would be more properly titled the “Anglo Unionist” but there’s another blog in that argument.

Meanwhile other Irishmen were planning to fight for their own small nation against a neighbouring aggressor. Events that would culminate in the beginnings of the fall of an empire.

My own view is that the only use of a war is to learn the lessons of it’s causes and effects and to apply those lessons for the sake of our children. It appears not everyone shares that view.


Palestine 2014

As we witness the appalling scenes in Palestine unfolding I thought it may be worth taking a step back and making some observations from a distance, as it were.

This is not a subject that this particular blog is about but I doubt any readers here are unmoved by the unfolding scenes despite the clear bias of certain elements of the mainstream media, not least the BBC.

First some figures:Gaza

Interesting? Not if you are are a resident of Gaza City. A matter of life or death perhaps.

The Israeli line is that of self defence. The done to death line is the 70 year old holocaust victim narrative. It is a narrative based upon victimhood of the Jews as a race.

There is undoubted truth in that. Over many centuries the Jewish people have been targetted as a race. Often for the simple reason that that they are skilled in the ways of commerce, yet that fact itself is a cliché. It is viewed as a vice rather than a virtue. It is a cliché that engenders envy amongst other emotions. It has been played upon for religious rather than race reasons for centuries by those with an agenda.

Why can we not step back and view what is currently happening in context? I think it is perhaps because we have a limited historical memory. We still hesitate to judge the Israeli state because of what happened to the Jewish People in the 1940’s rather than what has happened since. The state of Israel was, of course, created by the British Government. A partition of an ancient land- Palestine. The native population was corralled in designated areas (To Hell or to Connaught anyone?).

No service is done to the state of Israel by the behaviour of their leaders in these days. They have succeeded only in uniting most reasonable people in revulsion against their actions.


A Day in a Field

As we approach the 11th night and the Orange Orders 12th of July celebrations for this year I’ve been reflecting on the changes that have occurred and how so many things remain the same. There is a depressing repetitive narrative each year surrounding this gerry Bonfireweekend and the fallout which often continues for a considerable period afterwards. From a broadly nationalist perspective there is a sense of incredulity at the perceived nihilistic, self destructive behaviour of the “bonfire crowd” as well as the, at best, ambiguous response of political unionism. I’m struck by the contrasting views withing unionism towards the whole thing. I also note that this year there are subtle changes.

Carrickally of this parish blogged eloquently on this blog last year about what the 12th meant to him. It was a welcome article and described a cultural celebration that was of great importance to him. It painted a picture of a day which threatened nobody and, although not something I would partake in, I would have no objections to. Unfortunately, Medusa like, there is more than one head to this snake. Unionism is famously diverse in its opinions and difficult to unify except in the face of a common threat. Therefore a common threat must be identified if political unionism is to endure and thrive. For the avoidance of doubt that threat has “traditionally” been the likes of me, my flag and my fellow citizens in this part of the world. The threat this year appears to be extended to Anna Lo, the virgin Mary, Pakistan, Poland, the people of Palestine and the Ivory Coast amongst others. I hear not a single unionist voice raised against this. Not one.

Yet I see subtle things. Perhaps I am mistaken. The Orange Order have actually discouraged violent protest this year. It is qualified but it is a start. It certainly makes a change from the threats of yesteryear.  One of the most interesting contributions has been made by Sammy Wilson of all people. Read the last six paragraphs of this. A direct challenge to his party leader and the Orange Order I would think.

A vibrant self confident culture is one which finds expression in a celebration in the positive celebration of its virtues and which stands proudly anywhere in the world. A culture that finds expression in burning the flags and images of its perceived enemies is a culture that is dying. I would be happy to see Carickallys vision taking its place as part of the nation but until the ugly snake is confronted and defeated within the unionist community, until the silence is ended, until respect is shown instead of hypocritically demanded, that day is some distance off.

Belfast 2014.

Below is Faha’s analysis of the Belfast Council election results. I’m sure the consistent theme of this round of elections will be obvious to all. An increasingly apathetic nationalist electorate is bucking the demographic trend. Today’s news reports the usual Unionist rhetoric of threatening anarchy and ungovernable escalation of protesting fleggers. (Clue- the Orange Card). We are now at the stage where these threats are being openly ridiculed and laughed at. That hasn’t quite dawned on the “leaders” of unionism quite yet. Over to Faha:

This final analysis of the district council election covers the Belfast City Council. The party change in council vote between 2011 and 2014 was:


               Belfast 2014             Belfast 2011                  Change 
SF 31822 34862 -3040
SDLP 10892 14428 -3536
Nationalist 6233 4171 2062
Alliance 12478 14167 -1689
Green 2524 1441 1083
NI21 2953 0 2953
UUP 9804 9090 714
DUP 20751 25539 -4788
TUV 2883 594 2289
PUP 7096 2893 4203
UKIP 1162 0 1162
Unionist 196 1287 -1091
Conservative 361 128 233
Total 109155 108600 555



It was difficult to determine the change in party vote in Dunmurry Cross, Castlereagh West and Castlereagh East since these DEA’s were divided between Belfast and Lisburn-Castlereagh in the new councils but my approximation should be reasonably accurate based on the underlying demographics. The total nationalist vote was down by 4,514, a quite substantial decline from 2011. The SF vote was down by 3,040. Since the vote for independent nationalists (various dissident republican candidates and PBP) was up over 2,000, 2/3 of the SF decline was due to SF voters who defected from SF though it appears at least 1,000 SF voters stayed home. There was an even larger decline in the SDLP vote of 3,536.  Most of these voters stayed home, though perhaps a few hundred defected to the Green Party or NI21. There is no evidence that SDLP voters defected to Alliance in any significant number. The Alliance vote was down 1,689. Analysis of NI21 transfers indicates that approximately 1,200 of NI21 voters were Alliance voters in 2011. The remaining 500 vote decline in the Alliance vote was to the Green Party, mainly in the Ormiston DEA where the Green vote was up 500 from 2011. The total unionist vote was up 2,722 but since some NI21 voters were former UUP voters in 2011 the true unionist increase was probably 4,000. Despite the large increase of 4,000 unionist voters, the DUP vote declined 4,788, almost 20% of their 2011 total. The DUP voters defected to the PUP, TUV, UKIP and UUP. The UUP vote was up only 714 though if NI21 had not competed the UUP increase would have been over 1,500. The TUV nearly quadrupled their vote and the PUP vote was up 150%.

I have calculated the unionist and nationalist turnout in all DEA’s using the 2011 voting age population as recorded in the 2011 census.

Turnout DEA Nationalist Unionist
Castle 43% 45%
Oldpark 45% 42%
Court 41% 47%
Black Mountain 52% NA
Collin 57% 21%
Balmoral 52% 41%
Botanic 24% 24%
Lisnasharragh 35% 45%
Titanic 31% 42%
Ormiston 34% 50%


In the Castle DEA in 2011 the nationalist turnout was 47% and the unionist turnout was 41%. In this election the unionist turnout went up 4% and the nationalist turnout declined 4%. That net shift of 8% translates into a 1,000 vote swing in favour of unionist candidates and this is the reason SF lost their 2nd seat. There was little change in turnout in Oldpark though the PUP won a seat at the expense of the DUP. In Court DEA there was large increase in unionist turnout resulting in a complete reversal of the usual nationalist unionist turnout differential. In 2011 the nationalist turnout was approximately 51% and the unionist turnout 41%. The nationalist turnout declined by 10% and the unionist turnout increased to 47%. If the nationalist turnout had remained at 51% there would have been an additional 1,000 nationalist votes, which would have resulted in the election of a 3rd nationalist candidate and the defeat of the TUV candidate. One may conclude that the nationalist nonvoters prefer to be represented by the TUV rather than the SDLP. In Black Mountain PBP won at the expense of SF. There were no surprises in Collin and Balmoral. In Botanic, turnout was only 24% and the Green Party lost to the UUP by 127 votes on the last count. There were almost 200 SDLP, Alliance and Socialist votes that did not transfer and those non transfers may have made the difference. In Titanic, the UUP won a seat from the DUP and SF held onto their seat despite less favourable demographics and a very poor nationalist turnout of only 31%. In Lisnasharragh the nationalist turnout was 10% less than the unionist turnout and the combined SF-SDLP vote was only 1 quota despite a potential electorate of 2.3 quotas. In Ormiston, the Green Party took a seat from Alliance.

What would have been the outcome for Westminster and Assembly elections if they had been held the same day? Here are the estimated vote totals and percentages.

Westminster Assembly W Belfast S Belfast N Belfast E Belfast
SF 16942 4291 9691 1212
SDLP 2877 6332 3634 194
Nationalist 4683 340 1684 178
Alliance 559 6341 3322 6510
Green 0 1297 0 1606
NI21 389 1479 635 1049
UUP 699 3390 3888 5093
DUP 2215 7120 10693 10085
TUV 520 1029 1281 1901
PUP 1414 1275 2801 2320
UKIP 0 0 0 1162
Unionist 11 0 7 136
Conservative 0 199 0 162
Total 30309 33093 37637 31607
SF 55.90% 12.97% 25.75% 3.83%
SDLP 9.49% 19.13% 9.66% 0.61%
Nationalist 15.45% 1.03% 4.47% 0.56%
Alliance 1.84% 19.16% 8.83% 20.60%
Green 0.00% 3.92% 0.00% 5.08%
NI21 1.28% 4.47% 1.69% 3.32%
UUP 2.31% 10.25% 10.33% 16.11%
DUP 7.31% 21.52% 28.41% 31.91%
TUV 1.72% 3.11% 3.40% 6.01%
PUP 4.67% 3.85% 7.44% 7.34%
UKIP 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 3.68%
Unionist 0.04% 0.00% 0.02% 0.43%
Conservative 0.00% 0.60% 0.00% 0.51%


The combined unionist vote in West Belfast is 16%, above the quota of 14.3%. The SF vote of 55.9% is slightly less than 4 quotas but 4 would be elected with transfers. However, SF would lose a seat to the DUP. Expect Frank McCoubrey to be the DUP candidate as his vote total almost equaled the other 3 DUP candidates combined. He would appeal to loyalists and DUP voters. In South Belfast, the SDLP would lose a seat to the DUP. The combined unionist vote is 39.3% and the combined nationalist vote is 33.1%. With some NI21 transfers to the UUP that total would exceed 41% so it does appear that 3 unionists would be elected. If a Westminster election had been held the same day the DUP would have won. I expect that there will be a unionist unity candidate here in 2015 and if nationalist voter apathy continues this seat will be won by the unionist unity candidate. Mike Nesbitt is in a strong position to make a deal with the DUP as the DUP desperately want to win back Belfast East. Mike Nesbitt could potentially be the candidate. In Belfast East the combined PUP, TUV and UKIP vote is 17% so I expect the PUP or TUV would have won a seat at the expense of the DUP. In Westminster it appears that the DUP, at 31.9%, would easily defeat Alliance at 20.6%. This is misleading since there would be some nationalist tactical voting for Alliance and most of the 8.3% Green-NI21 vote would go to Alliance. The Alliance vote could be near 30%. I expect the DUP to take no chances and they will agree to an electoral pact with the UUP to guarantee that they will win. In North Belfast, the Alliance vote is approaching that of the SDLP though there was a 4.5% independent nationalist vote that would provide the SDLP with enough transfers to keep their seat. The DUP would lose their 3rd seat to either the PUP or UUP. The combined PUP-TUV vote of 10.8% is an underestimate as these parties did not compete in Glengormley DEA. There will be no change in Westminster as the TUV and PUP will not stand.

For all of Northern Ireland, here is the approximate turnout by constituency.

Turnout Constituency Nationalist Unionist
Belfast East 33% 45%
Belfast North 46% 50%
Belfast South 36% 37%
Belfast West 44% 41%
East Antrim 32% 43%
East Londonderry 38% 45%
Fermanagh and South Tyrone 52% 63%
Foyle 50% 43%
Lagan Valley 26% 47%
Mid Ulster 52% 57%
Newry and Armagh 50% 54%
North Antrim 42% 51%
North Down 20% 39%
South Antrim 36% 42%
South Down 45% 45%
Strangford 36% 40%
Upper Bann 39% 54%
West Tyrone 55% 61%


Unionist turnout is 1% to 2% higher per constituency than these numbers since 9,000 TUV, UKIP and PUP voters did not vote in the council election. Nationalist turnout would be 1% to 3% less since the nationalist electorate has increased by over 20,000 since 2011. After taking that into account, there are 14 constituencies where nationalist turnout is much lower than unionist turnout (>5% difference). There are 3 constituencies where turnout is equal-South Down, South Belfast and West Belfast. Only Foyle has a nationalist turnout that is clearly higher than unionist turnout.

Faha strikes again! Further analysis of the new councils

This is my more detailed analysis of the Causeway Coast and Glens, Mid and East Antrim, Antrim-Newtownabbey and Lisburn-Castlereagh council election. The party change in council vote between 2011 and 2014 was:

Glens 2014
Glens 2011
SF 9313 10110 -797
SDLP 5911 6005 -94
Nationalist 1658 1757 -99
Alliance 1822 1963 -141
Green 0 0 0
NI21 378 0 378
UUP 7978 7688 290
DUP 11459 16312 -4853
TUV 4840 2027 2813
PUP 777 0 777
UKIP 516 91 425
Unionist 773 3738 -2965
Conservative 129 0 129
Total 45554 49691 -4137


Overall, there was a 4,137 decline in the total vote between 2011 and 2014. Almost 1,000 of that decline was in the nationalist vote and over 3,300 of that decline was in the unionist vote.  This is one of the few councils where the decline in the unionist vote was higher than the decline of the nationalist vote. The decline in the nationalist vote was almost entirely due to the 797 fewer votes that Sinn Fein received in 2014. Approximately 300 votes of that SF decline was due to the fact that SF did not have a candidate in the Causeway DEA. The other 500 vote decline was entirely in the 2 Limavady DEA’s. This was probably due to local factors. Limavady council was originally supposed to be part of the Derry council. The DUP decided, with SF cooperation, to transfer Limavady to this unionist majority council instead. Most likely, the 500 vote SF decline is due to voters who stayed home because they were upset with the SF-DUP decision to transfer Limavady to unionist control. However, the bigger story here is the massive collapse in the DUP vote. The DUP lost 30% of their 2011 vote. Most of these voters defected to the TUV, PUP and UKIP though some stayed home. There was a large decline in the independent unionist vote but half of that decline was due to voters who voted for David McClarty in 2011.

In Mid and East Antrim the change in party vote between 2011 and 2014 was:

  Mid & East
Antrim 2014
Mid & East
Antrim 2011
SF 3118 2769 349
SDLP 1864 2712 -848
Nationalist 188 246 -58
Alliance 4277 5102 -825
Green 0 404 -404
NI21 783 0 783
UUP 7665 7876 -211
DUP 12520 19729 -7209
TUV 6266 4043 2223
PUP 1352 146 1206
UKIP 749 0 749
Unionist 2747 3954 -1207
Conservative 107 0 107
Total 41636 46981 -5345


Overall, there was a 5,345 vote decline between 2011 and 2014. The decline in the unionist vote was much larger than the decline in the nationalist vote. The decline in the total vote is proportional to the underlying unionist and nationalist electorate as the nationalist electorate is only 20% in this council. The SF vote was up but only because the SDLP did not have a candidate in Bannside so SDLP voters voted SF or Alliance in 2014. The SDLP appear to have partly abandoned competing in this council as they competed in only 3 of the 7 DEA’s whereas SF competed in 5 of the DEA’s. The Alliance Green vote was also down significantly. Some of these voters may have voted NI21 but many stayed home. As in Causeway Coast and Glens the big story here is the massive decline in the DUP vote, down 37% from 2011. Half of the decline in the 2011 DUP vote was due to voters who defected to the TUV, PUP and UKIP but the other half stayed home.

In Antrim-Newtownabbey the change in party vote between 2011 and 2014 was:

Newtownabbey 2014
Newtownabbey 2011
SF 5434 5578 -144
SDLP 3746 4273 -527
Nationalist 0 250 -250
Alliance 5535 6415 -880
Green 0 0 0
NI21 1357 0 1357
UUP 8921 8798 123
DUP 14082 17157 -3075
TUV 2479 363 2116
PUP 1285 615 670
UKIP 0 0 0
Unionist 143 1052 -909
Conservative 0 0 0
Total 42982 44501 -1519


Overall, there was a 1,519 vote decline between the 2011 and 2014 elections. The majority of that decline (921) was a decline in votes for nationalist candidates. These nationalist voters stayed home. The Alliance vote was also down by 880 but those were voters who defected to NI21. The DUP vote was down by 3,075 and these were voters who defected to the TUV and PUP. While it appears the overall unionist vote was down, in reality it was unchanged from 2011. There were no TUV and PUP candidates in the Dunsilly, Airport and Glengormley DEA’s. The unionist vote in the Euro election was 9,000 votes higher for all of Northern Ireland and this is one council where many of those extra votes were located. The DUP decline here would have been much worse if the TUV, PUP and UKIP had competed in these 3 DEA’s.

In Lisburn-Castlereagh the change in party vote between 2011 and 2014 was:

Castlereagh 2014
Castlereagh 2011
SF 2132 2435 -303
SDLP 3658 4400 -742
Nationalist 33 83 -50
Alliance 5492 7758 -2266
Green 699 967 -268
NI21 3173 0 3173
UUP 7311 8266 -955
DUP 18520 22971 -4451
TUV 2720 289 2431
PUP 695 0 695
UKIP 824 0 824
Unionist 136 450 -314
Conservative 376 337 39
Total 45769 47956 -2187


It was difficult to determine the change in party vote in Dunmurry Cross, Castlereagh West and Castlereagh East since these DEA’s were divided between Belfast and Lisburn-Castlereagh in the new councils but my approximation should be reasonably accurate based on the underlying demographics. Half the overall vote decline between 2011 and 2014 was due to nationalist voters who stayed home. There was a large decline of 2,534 in the Alliance-Green vote. Probably half of those voters defected to NI21 and the other half stayed home. There was a large 20% decline of 4,451 in the DUP vote. Most of these voters defected to the TUV, PUP and UKIP. The DUP vote decline would have been greater but there was no competition from the TUV, PUP or UKIP in Killultagh DEA.

I have calculated the unionist and nationalist turnout in all DEA’s using the 2011 voting age population as recorded in the 2011 census.

Turnout DEA Nationalist Unionist
Benbradagh 43% 50%
Limavady 35% 54%
Bann 47% 60%
Coleraine 28% 40%
Causeway 27% 47%
Ballymoney 40% 48%
The Glens 55% 38%
Ballymena 26% 43%
Bannside 43% 56%
Braid 50% 48%
Carrick Castle 18% 42%
Coast Road 38% 46%
Knockagh 20% 50%
Larne Lough 19% 40%
Airport 48% 48%
Antrim 25% 40%
Ballyclare 20% 41%
Dunsilly 49% 50%
Glengormley Urban 39% 44%
Macedon 29% 44%
3MileWater 18% 48%
Castlereagh East 25% 45%
Castlereagh South 47% 43%
Downshire East 20% 53%
Downshire West 23% 42%
Killultagh 42% 47%
Lisburn North 33% 45%
Lisburn South 20% 43%


In Causeway Coast and Glens nationalist turnout is much lower than unionist turnout in all DEA’s except the Glens where it is 55%. The low turnout resulted in the loss of a SF councilor in Bann DEA as well as one in Ballymoney DEA. Even though there are 2.6 nationalist quotas in Ballymoney DEA only 1 nationalist councilor was elected. In Mid and East Antrim, only in the Braid DEA does nationalist turnout equal unionist turnout. In all other DEA’s the nationalist turnout is much lower than unionist turnout. In Antrim-Newtownabbey nationalist turnout equals unionist turnout in the Airport and Dunsilly DEA’s but in all other DEA’s it is much lower. In the Antrim DEA it was only 25% and SF lost their seat here in a DEA with 2.6 nationalist quotas. In Macedon DEA, with 1.6 nationalist quotas in the electorate, neither SF nor the SDLP elected a councilor. In Lisburn-Castlereagh nationalist turnout exceeded unionist turnout in Castlereagh South but was much lower than unionist turnout in 5 DEA’s. In Castlereagh South it appears that 2/3 of the Alliance NI21 vote came from the Catholic electorate. Although the nationalist turnout in Killultagh was only 5% lower than unionist turnout, that 5% translated into 250 fewer votes which resulted in the SF candidate losing a seat.

What would have been the outcome for Westminster and Assembly elections if they had been held the same day? Here are the estimated vote totals and percentages.

Westminster Assembly East Derry North Antrim E Antrim S Antrim Lagan Valley
SF 6098 5322 1788 3801 1037
SDLP 4885 2812 1175 3280 1605
Nationalist 252 1176 670 0 33
Alliance 1482 1525 3904 2994 2927
Green 0 0 0 0 257
NI21 385 355 809 967 2629
UUP 5627 6731 6190 6665 6760
DUP 8554 13385 7638 8592 14505
TUV 2867 7015 2205 1546 1846
PUP 810 183 1481 470 203
UKIP 438 153 749 0 824
Unionist 602 1546 1529 143 74
Conservative 0 129 107 0 376
Total 31998 40331 28246 28458 33077
SF 19.06% 13.19% 6.33% 13.36% 3.13%
SDLP 15.27% 6.97% 4.16% 11.53% 4.85%
Nationalist 0.79% 2.91% 2.37% 0.00% 0.10%
Alliance 4.63% 3.78% 13.82% 10.52% 8.85%
Green 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.78%
NI21 1.20% 0.88% 2.86% 3.40% 7.95%
UUP 17.59% 16.69% 21.91% 23.42% 20.44%
DUP 26.73% 33.19% 27.04% 30.19% 43.85%
TUV 8.96% 17.39% 7.81% 5.43% 5.58%
PUP 2.53% 0.45% 5.24% 1.65% 0.61%
UKIP 1.37% 0.38% 2.65% 0.00% 2.49%
Unionist 1.88% 3.83% 5.41% 0.50% 0.22%
Conservative 0.00% 0.32% 0.38% 0.00% 1.14%


In East Derry there would be no change for Westminster but the TUV would win an Assembly seat (probably Douglas Boyd) on PUP and UKIP transfers. In North Antrim there would be no change in Westminster but Jim Allister would easily be elected to the Assembly. Depending on transfers and DUP balancing, there could be a 2nd TUV seat here. The SDLP would be far short of a seat with only half a quota 1st preference.  In East Antrim, there would be no change in Westminster though the UUP is only 5% behind the DUP and depending on whom TUV, PUP, and UKIP voters support the UUP could make this seat competitive. For Assembly, the TUV should win a seat since the combined TUV, PUP, and UKIP vote is over a quota. This gain would come at the expense of SF. There are 5 unionist quotas and Alliance are just short of a quota but would pick up enough NI21 votes and SDLP transfers to keep their seat. SF, at 6.3%, would be far short of a quota even if most of the 6.5% SDLP-independent nationalist vote transfers to SF (which did not occur in 2011). In South Antrim, there probably would be no change for Westminster. However, the DUP council vote overestimates their true strength since the TUV, PUP and UKIP did not compete in 3 DEA’s. It is possible that there would be a TUV seat in the Assembly election since the true TUV vote would be much higher than 5.4% as they did not compete in 3 if the DEA’s. There is still only 1 nationalist seat here. In Lagan Valley, there would be no change in Westminster. For the Assembly, the TUV would be competing with the UUP for the 5th unionist seat. The nationalist vote is only half a quota despite and electorate of 1.4 quotas.

Flegs, Semantics and Political Culpability

Having let Faha loose with this blog over the last few weeks and, may I say, he has done a fine job focussing on exactly the principles that I intended when I started this blog, I felt I should write a piece myself as we approach the traditional season of peace and goodwill that prevails hereabouts during the long hot summer months.

Firstly Flegs.

Apparently they (and I’m referring to loyalists here) are ordering extra large ones this year. (Mine is bigger than yours seems to be the message). Of course we all know that that the flag waving competition is simply about marking territory except that it is no longer a competition if only one team is on the pitch. As any general will tell you it is not a great strategy fighting an already lost battle on a shrinking field.

The interesting change this year revolves around the PSNI deciding to designate the erection of further union flags in the upper Union Flag in tattersOrmeau rd as a breach of the peace”. Of course this is a result of demographic change. What was previously an overwhelmingly unionist area, eh, isn’t anymore. In fact it’s now a majority nationalist area (67%). Likewise, we have the same story in Finaghy. I have noted with interest the necessity in unionist areas to write the words “Ivory Coast” across their national flag lest it be confused with that other green white and orange tricolour. So much for geography teachers and the respect for “others” I thought everyone voted for in the good friday agreement. Of course the devil will be in the detail. Enforcement. The PSNI blinked the last time this chestnut came up. They will be tested again this time.


Language, the use and subtleties of it, the application and means to which it is put. As George Orwell says: “The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as if it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink”  I honestly believe there is a doctoral thesis waiting to be written on the use/misuse of language in these parts. I need hardly recite the litany of double names for pretty much everything. In fact I’m not going to because it would be pointless. My point, such as it is, is that we are never going to agree on a commonality of language and terms. We should simply accept that we each have our own interpretations. Lets just leave it at that?

Political Culpability

Ok,  two names, this week anyway. Nelson and Peter. I’m not even going to attempt to critique the Minister for “keeping Deputy Dodds North Belfast Seat” antics. It’s beyond satire. Peter Robinson is a different matter. He is supposed to be the First Minister. That means that he acts in the interests of ALL the population of these six counties. Not the DUP electorate, not the Unionist electorate, all of us.

He is not speaking for me for a start. We have had to listen to his excuses for the prehistoric fundamentalist preacher who decided Moslems were the source of all evil, then a defence of the ladies in deckchairs outside the house in East Belfast with their blatantly racist bedsheets. The irony of them claiming to complain about unfair housing allocation completely lost on pretty much everyone.

Unionism is an ideology built upon the twin tenets of superiority over the natives and loyalty to a ruling power. It is a contradictory, colonialist mentality. That is why the recent comments of Peter Robinson are so ridiculous. He is, when presented with an opportunity for leadership, as sure footed as a mountain Sloth.




Down and Armagh- Fahas post election view

This is my more detailed analysis of the Armagh and Down councils of Armagh-Banbridge-Craigavon, Newry-Mourne-Down and North Down-Ards. The party change in council vote between 2011 and 2014 was:

Craigavon 2014
Craigavon 2011
SF 13591 17234 -3643
SDLP 10083 11614 -1531
Nationalist 490 1252 -762
Alliance 2440 1929 511
Green 0 0 0
NI21 884 0 884
UUP 18882 19900 -1018
DUP 17734 21074 -3340
TUV 1852 1565 287
PUP 1274 0 1274
UKIP 1322 122 1200
Unionist 2100 1136 964
Conservative 0 0 0
Total 70652 75826 -5174


Overall, there was a 5,174 decline in the total vote between 2011 and 2014. The decline in the nationalist vote was 5,936 and the decline in the unionist vote was 633.  There probably was no actual decline in the unionist vote and turnout since that 633 vote decline was due to unionist voters who voted NI21. The Alliance vote was up mainly because they competed in 2 additional DEA’s. The decline in the SF vote was over twice that of the SDLP. Indeed, 20% of all nationalist voters who voted in 2011 stayed home in 2014. The decline in the DUP vote was almost as large as that for SF. The DUP voters defected to the TUV, PUP and UKIP and independent unionists. Half the decline in the UUP vote was probably votes lost to NI21. The only expected change (compared to the results expected from the 2011 vote) was the loss of a SF seat in Craigavon to the DUP and in the Portadown DEA where the UUP and UKIP each picked up additional seats at the expense of the DUP.

In Newry-Mourne-Down the change in party vote between 2011 and 2014 was:


  Newry Mourne
Down 2014
Newry Mourne
Down 2011
SF 22613 24083 -1470
SDLP 18568 20309 -1741
Nationalist 2240 3335 -1095
Alliance 1460 1330 130
Green 839 1417 -578
NI21 526 0 526
UUP 7314 7500 -186
DUP 4635 5454 -819
TUV 433 408 25
PUP 0 0 0
UKIP 2371 1910 461
Unionist 0 0 0
Conservative 0 0 0
Total 60999 65746 -4747


Overall, there was a 4,747 vote decline between 2011 and 2014. There was a 4,306 decline in the nationalist vote and only a 519 decline in the unionist vote. The actual decline in the unionist vote and turnout was actually minimal since some of those voters voted for NI21. The Green candidate in Downpatrick in 2011 stood as an independent in 2014 but I included his vote as Green.

For North Down-Ards the change in party vote between 2011 and 2014 was:

  North Down Ards
North Down Ards
SF 388 0 388
SDLP 1959 1983 -24
Nationalist 0 0 0
Alliance 6243 9073 -2830
Green 2023 2025 -2
NI21 1441 0 1441
UUP 6797 7809 -1012
DUP 14244 20763 -6519
TUV 2252 830 1422
PUP 0 0 0
UKIP 1180 427 753
Unionist 3548 4453 -905
Conservative 1554 856 698
0 1458 -1458
Total 41629 49677 -8048


There was a large decline in turnout of 8,048 voters between 2011 and 2014. Most of that decline was due to the decline in the DUP vote. I estimate that 2/3 of the DUP vote decline was due to voters who stayed home and the other 1/3 defected to the TUV and UKIP. The decline in the UUP vote was probably due to voters who voted for NI21. There also was a large decline in the Alliance vote. Brian Wilson (formerly Green/Alliance) did not stand in 2014 and most of his vote probably went to Green and Alliance candidates. Overall, the nonsectarian vote decline from 2011 accounts for half of the 8,048 vote decline.

I have calculated the unionist and nationalist turnout in all DEA’s using the 2011 voting age population as recorded in the 2011 census. In 4 of North Down-Ards DEA’s it is difficult to estimate the turnout of the Catholic population due to the absence of nationalist candidates. I have used 2011 transfer data to provide estimates. My estimates of Catholic turnout may be high in all DEA’s except Ards Peninsula. For example in the Bangor Central DEA the combined Alliance-Green-NI21 vote was 1509. I assumed that 500 (33%) was from the Catholic electorate even though the Catholic electorate is only 11% in this DEA. The turnout calculation was 20%. It could be as low as 15%. In Holywood and Bangor West DEA’s, it appears that 2/3 of Catholics do not vote for nationalist parties and this would probably be true in the other DEA’s if the SDLP competed.

Turnout DEA Nationalist Unionist
Armagh 43% 53%
Banbridge 39% 51%
Craigavon 42% 64%
Cusher 51% 57%
Lagan River 29% 53%
Lurgan 38% 51%
Portadown 36% 50%
Crotlieve 51% 44%
Downpatrick 48% 33%
Newry 43% 20%
Rowallane 40% 45%
Slieve Croob 45% 46%
Slieve Gullion 61% 57%
The Mournes 46% 56%
Ards Peninsula 42% 33%
Bangor Central 20% 36%
Bangor East
and Donaghadee
18% 41%
Bangor West 23% 38%
Comber 20% 44%
Holywood and
28% 42%
Newtownards 18% 42%


The Protestant electorate has not changed since 2011 so the unionist turnout figures should be very accurate though they underestimate unionist turnout in some DEA’s where the TUV or UKIP did not compete since some of those voters voted in the Euro election but not the council election. The nationalist turnout figures probably overestimate the nationalist turnout by 1% to 3% because they do not account for the increase in the nationalist electorate since 2011, which would be over 20,000 for all of Northern Ireland.

Of the 7 DEA’s in Armagh-Banbridge-Craigavon nationalist turnout is much lower than unionist turnout in all DEA’s ranging from 6% less in Cusher to 24% less in Lagan River. In the Craigavon DEA it was 22% less. The Craigavon DEA has a nationalist electorate of 56% and a unionist electorate of 44% yet the unionist vote exceeded the nationalist vote and 3 unionists were elected and only 2 nationalists. In my analysis earlier this year of this new council I estimated it would have a nationalist majority in 40 years. Based on the 2014 turnout, I would postpone that date to the next century.

In the Newry-Mourne-Down council the picture is more mixed, with nationalist turnout higher in 4 DEA’s and lower in 2. In the Downpatrick and Newry DEA’s it appears that the unionist electorate has declined below that critical mass required to maintain party structure and turnout.

In North Down-Ards unionist turnout is down sharply from 2011. Nationalist turnout is probably down also but is difficult to quantify.

What would have been the outcome for Westminster and Assembly elections if they had been held the same day? Here are the estimated vote totals and percentages.

Newry Armagh Upper Bann S Down Strangford North Down
SF 17409 8800 10842 802 0
SDLP 9745 5168 12199 2378 572
Nationalist 1086 490 1005 112 0
Alliance 161 1855 1066 2909 3810
Green 0 0 839 0 2023
NI21 9 632 333 774 907
UUP 8071 9947 4808 5437 4290
DUP 4126 11426 2909 10436 7730
TUV 72 1328 0 1489 1153
PUP 54 1220 0 0 0
UKIP 322 1000 2371 427 753
Unionist 1927 71 0 2054 2839
Conservative 0 0 0 690 864
Total 42981 41937 36372 27507 24941
SF 40.50% 20.98% 29.81% 2.92% 0.00%
SDLP 22.67% 12.32% 33.54% 8.64% 2.29%
Nationalist 2.53% 1.17% 2.76% 0.41% 0.00%
Alliance 0.38% 4.42% 2.93% 10.58% 15.28%
Green 0.00% 0.00% 2.31% 0.00% 8.11%
NI21 0.02% 1.51% 0.92% 2.81% 3.64%
UUP 18.78% 23.72% 13.22% 19.77% 17.20%
DUP 9.60% 27.25% 8.00% 37.94% 30.99%
TUV 0.17% 3.17% 0.00% 5.41% 4.62%
PUP 0.13% 2.91% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
UKIP 0.75% 2.39% 6.52% 1.55% 3.02%
Unionist 4.48% 0.17% 0.00% 7.47% 11.38%
Conservative 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 2.51% 3.46%


In Newry&Armagh there would be no change in either the Assembly or Westminster election. In Upper Bann, the SDLP would retain their Assembly seat on nationalist, Alliance and NI21 transfers. There probably would still be 2 DUP and 2 UUP as the combined TUV, UKIP, and PUP vote is only 8.5%. Since these parties did not compete in Banbridge DEA the true total may be 10% but this would not be enough to threaten the 2nd UUP seat. There would be no change for Westminster. In South Down UKIP could take an Assembly seat from the DUP. UKIP was at 6.5% and the DUP at 8%. However, UKIP did not compete in all the DEA’s nor did the TUV. It is possible that the combined UKIP-TUV vote actually exceeded the DUP vote in the Euro election. Expect Henry Reilly to be a serious contender in the 2016 Stormont election. In Strangford, there would be no nationalist seat as the combined nationalist vote is 2% less than a quota. Alliance should be elected on NI21 and independent unionist transfers. It appears there would be 2 UUP and 3 DUP. The combined UKIP –TUV vote is only half a quota but could threaten the 2nd UUP seat depending on who the independent unionists (7.5%) vote for in an Assembly election. North Down would probably be unchanged with the Green party winning an Assembly seat on SDLP, NI21 and other transfers.


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