State of (Nationalism within) the Union, a few questions…..


A Guest Post by Morpheus:

The nationalist parties in Northern Ireland currently hold 40% of the seats at Stormont, 40% of the seats in our local councils, 45% of Northern Ireland’s Westminster seats and topped the last European elections by a country mile but the question still needs to be asked – what are they doing about the one issue which the SDLP ranks as Number 1 in their list of ideas and Sinn Féin…well let’s just say we know their feelings on the matter. Catalonian-style mock border polls in highly partisan areas with claims of gerrymandering to get the results they want?  Please.  The media gave them the attention they deserved – zero.

When talking about the cost of Scotland’s bid for independence The Belfast Telegraph’s Ed Curren recently asked the question:

“What price a united Ireland now, or in the future? The war of words over Scotland’s economy should raise this fundamental question on this side of the Irish Sea, yet nationalist and republican politicians continue to ignore it.”

Curran goes on to add:

“A border poll on the future of Northern Ireland cannot be conducted in an economic vacuum.  Nationalism lies at the heart of the political debate in Northern Ireland, yet virtually no one – including the media here – is asking the searching questions which, in Scotland’s case, must be keeping Alex Salmond awake these nights as the referendum approaches.  What would be the cost of nationalism for the people of Northern Ireland? Can anyone produce a coherent economic strategy which might convince some unionists of its merits? Why are those who vote for nationalist parties not demanding answers for themselves and their families? Or are they simply, as the opinion polls suggest, paying lip-service to the aspiration of unity, while acknowledging they are better off in the UK?”

My problem with nationalists drawing up their own framework is that it won’t be looked at by half the population, north and south of the border, because it will be seen as unreliable Sinn Féin ‘back of a cigarette packet’ propaganda. And they’d probably be right. And why should they look at it based on uninspiring displays like this from senior Sinn Féin leaders? It would be an exercise in futility.

In my opinion any framework needs to be completed by an independent organisation who will work hand in hand with the guarantors of the GFA, the British and Irish Governments. Only they will have full access to their relevant Ministries (especially the tax departments) to get answers to the key questions regarding all the options available to the people of Ireland. This framework will put in black and white what a new Ireland would look like in terms of education, health, economy, judiciary, social security, political representation etc and then the electorate can finally make an informed decision about what is best for them and their families.  It could be that that the people of Northern Ireland decide that our constitutional future lies within the UK but at least an informed electorate will make their informed choice based on facts and not myth – an example of which comes from a recent conversation when someone asked why anyone would want to join a united Ireland when it costs €100 to see a GP when in reality the national average is less than half that at €46.  The electorate deserves to make a decision on facts.

To further demonstrate the laziness of the nationalist parties on this key issue, the constitutional future of Northern Ireland is very clearly set out in The Good Friday Agreement:

(1) It is hereby declared that Northern Ireland in its entirety remains part of the United Kingdom and shall not cease to be so without the consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland voting in a poll held for the purposes of this section in accordance with Schedule 1.

(2) But if the wish expressed by a majority in such a poll is that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland, the Secretary of State shall lay before Parliament such proposals to give effect to that wish as may be agreed between Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom and the Government of Ireland.”

Therefore the first thing that should concern the nationalist parties is the aforementioned poll and the mechanism for getting one set out in the GFA:

“1. The Secretary of State may by order direct the holding of a poll for the purposes of section 1 on a date specified in the order.

2. Subject to paragraph 3, the Secretary of State shall exercise the power under paragraph 1 if at any time it appears likely to him that a majority of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland.

3. The Secretary of State shall not make an order under paragraph 1 earlier than seven years after the holding of a previous poll under this Schedule.”

The nationalist parties should be asking the Secretary of State:

“What exactly do you need to see in order for it to appear likely to you that the majority of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland…do you need to see something in the elections results? Something in the census? Something in the NILT? A combination? What?”

But they haven’t even done that! They have no idea where they are going so how do they expect to get there?

The Secretary of State should be looking to clarify matters as well to protect herself and both communities. Should it be left to a single person – a person who none of us cast a single vote for – to make such a decision without making it crystal clear on what basis they make that decision? What if the next SoS has a completely different take on it?  If the criteria for example is for a nationalist party to hold the First Minister’s position then the wait might not be that long but if the criteria is that more than 50% of the seats at Stormont must be nationalist then it puts the likelihood of a poll back by decades and we can all put the issue on the back burner.

As stated, the nationalist parties have been incredibly lazy and it is probably because the SDLP are currently next to non-existent and Sinn Féin have been focusing their efforts on making themselves powerhouses on both sides of the border but Ed Curren’s question still rings true:
Why are those who vote for nationalist parties not demanding answers for themselves and their families? Or are they simply, as the opinion polls suggest, paying lip-service to the aspiration of unity, while acknowledging they are better off in the UK?”

North Down and Ards


OK, here’s Fahas latest analysis for the the May Council elections. My favourite constituency ;-) and perhaps one that may throw up a surprise or two! Interestingly, given the previous post, Faha predicts a gain for the Green party but no joy again for the SDLP.

This 10th analysis of the new district councils will cover the new North Down Ards council. This new council comprises the current Ards and North Down councils. The demographic breakdown of the new council is 13.12% Catholic, 75.05% Protestant, 1.1% Other and 10.73% None. It has the highest percentage of Protestants and the highest percentage of None of all the new councils. The following shows the change in the turnout for the nationalist and unionist parties comparing the 2005 and 2011 district council elections. 3 of the DEA’s in North Down and 1 in Ards have never had candidates from a nationalist party. I used the transfer data in adjoining DEA’s where there have been SDLP candidates to estimate the turnout of the nationalist electorate in those DEA’s where there have been no candidates.

N Down1

N Down 2

The election turnout for the 2005 and 2011 elections indicate:

#1 There was a decline in turnout between the 2005 and 2011 elections.

#2 Nationalist turnout is low in all DEA’s except the Ards Peninsula. This is partly due to the failure of SF and the SDLP to contest most elections. The 2005 election in Bangor West provides much information on who Catholics vote for. In that election, 50% of Catholics voted for the SDLP and the other 50% voted Alliance or Green. Also, the transfer pattern indicated that 20% of Alliance and Green voters were Catholic in that election. In 2011 in Ards East and Newtownards, 1/3 of Catholics voted for the SDLP and 2/3 for Alliance or Green. The transfer pattern indicated that 20% of Alliance and Green were Catholic.

#3 In the 2011 Assembly election, nationalist voter apathy (approximately 800 voter deficit within the Strangford boundaries) resulted in no nationalist representation from Strangford in the Assembly. The SDLP candidate was 458 votes behind Mike Nesbitt of the UUP on the final count. This is the 2nd constituency where nationalist voter apathy had a profound influence on Northern Ireland politics. If not for the nationalist voter apathy in Strangford, Joe Boyle of the SDLP would have been elected and Mike Nesbitt of the UUP would have been defeated. With his defeat he would not have become the future leader of the UUP. The other constituency was North Antrim. There was a 1,700 nationalist voter deficit in Ballymena council and Ballymoney Town and Declan O’Loan of the SDLP lost to Jim Allister of the TUV by only 613 votes. If not for the nationalist voter apathy, Jim Allister would have been defeated and it is possible that the TUV may have dissolved. Neither Jim Allister nor Mike Nesbitt ever thanked all those nationalist voters for staying home even though their subsequent successful political careers were due to those nationalist nonvoters.

The change in the party vote between 2005 and 2011 is as follows:

N Down 3

In North Down, there was a massive collapse in the UUP vote. Since there was little change in the Alliance and DUP vote, it appears that many of the UUP voters stayed home. The independent unionist vote was also down significantly. The decline in the Green vote in Bangor West was entirely due to the fact that the Independent was a former Green who stood as an independent and took most of the Green vote with him.

In Ards, there was also a massive collapse of the UUP vote. Since the Alliance vote was up slightly some of the UUP vote defected to Alliance but many stayed home. There was also a collapse in the DUP vote that was just as large as that for the UUP. Some stayed home but the majority of the decline was due to defections to the TUV and independent unionists. There was no SF candidate in the Peninsula DEA and that entire SF vote from 2005 as well as the independent nationalist vote from 2005 went to the SDLP.

There were only minor changes to 3 of the DEA’s in the current Ards council area (see map). Ards East was abolished and divided up among 3 other DEA’s. Millisle was added to the new Peninsula DEA. Most of the town of Newtownards is now within one DEA. There were more extensive changes in the North Down council area with Holywood expanding into Bangor West and Ballyholme and Groomsport now including Donaghadee. The predicted election results are based on the 2011 turnout.

N Down 4

The average ward electorate is 2816. The total electorate and average ward electorate for each DEA is.

Holywood  14187 (2837)  Bangor West  13547 (2709)  Bangor Central    17254 (2876)  Bangor East & Donaghadee  14251 (2850)  Peninsula  16751 (2792)  Comber   13729 (2746)   Newtownards 20056 (2865)

The party makeup after the 2011 Ards and North Down council elections was:

SF 0  SDLP  1  Alliance   10  Green   1  Independent 1  UUP   10  DUP  22  Unionist   3

Total                   48

The expected party strength in the new council with the new DEA boundaries:

SF    0  SDLP   1  Alliance  8  Green    2  Independent 1  UUP  8  DUP   18  Unionist    2

Total                   40

The new council will have 8 fewer councilors and the net party loss would be.

SF     0  SDLP  0  Alliance   -2 Green    1  Independent  0 UUP  -2  DUP   -4  Unionist -1

The final DEA boundaries were unfavourable to the SDLP in the North Down area. There were proposals to enlarge the Holywood and Bangor West DEA’s to 7 wards which would have resulted in 2 DEA’s with a nationalist electorate of 18% to 20% with a quota of 12.5%. If those proposals had passed there could be 2 additional SDLP councilors elected. There is still the possibility of a SDLP councilor in Holywood but it would require a robust nationalist turnout and transfers from an eliminated Green or Alliance candidate. It does not appear that this will be a DUP majority council but it will always be a unionist majority council.

 

 

 

Bangordub meets a “Taig” with a PHD


(Also published on Slugger O’Toole)

I had an interesting chat today with John Barry. A fellow Dubliner but a far more interesting and indeed public character than that may suggest.

John is a Green Party candidate in the forthcoming Council elections standing in the Abbey ward of the new North Down and Ards Council. He was co-opted onto the existing North Down Council when Steven Agnew was elected as an MLA and will be seeking to retain the Green seat in the forthcoming elections but he is much more than that. John Barry has been a key strategist for the Green Party in NI since 2003. He was a joint chair of the party until 2009. He is a senior academic and Professor of History and Politics at QUB.

Rather than going over predictable ground such as the traditional Green “boxsets” such as sustainable energy, global warming, and environmental fundamentalism (eg: by the likes of the fundamentalist wing of the DUP), We talked about strategic planning and how the Party intended to develop and grow their vote in the years ahead. He expressed frustration at how the mainstream media tended to only contact the party when an obviously “Green” issue was at stake. This was interesting given his views below. It was clear to me that John still retains a key idealogical and strategic development role within the party.

We kicked off with a discussion about the All Ireland nature of the party (naturally, given my own bias). John was a prime mover behind the all Ireland nature of the Green Party and I was curious as to why. It was a simple enough matter for him. “The environment doesn’t stop at the border” being the show stopper. We discussed Fracking in Fermanagh in depth and the need for a cross border public response to this. I need hardly add that he wasn’t a fan. He also pointed out that we are a small Island and we’re stronger (better) together on these non partisan issues. John also emphasised the east / west importance and commonality of environmental issues and the links between green politics in Ireland, Scotland, England  and Wales

We moved onto the strategic targets for the Greens in the forthcoming elections at Council Level. I deliberately avoided the subject of the Euro vote as it has been covered in depth by others and the motivations of voters may be entirely different.

Currently the Green Party have 3 councillors. John himself in North Down plus 1 in Castlereagh and 1 in Down. I asked what the plan was for the May elections. John candidly said that 5 seats would be a realistic and achievable objective for this electoral battle. His target seats were interesting. South Belfast is a definite target seat. A Castlereagh hold is being worked hard on and a possible Lisburn gain is in sight for the party. East Belfast is on the horizon but interestingly Omagh apparently is emerging as a distinct possibility with candidate Ciaran McClean generating strong party optimism west of the Bann. A genuine breakthrough if it happens.

We moved onto the ideological stuff eventually. It was fascinating.  John knows his stats, I’ll give him that. It is well known that the Greens favour reducing the voting age to 16. The 16 year olds agree with that although almost nobody else does but Johns argument was one I would agree with. The average 16 year old is much more politically savvy now than the average 18 year old was 20 years ago. I argued that the Greens would be likely to benefit electorally from younger voters. He agreed. Hmmmmph.

We then went onto another entire strategic planet regarding Green policy on Gay Marriage,  Female choice, trade union rights and some very interesting stuff regarding the Alliance Party and their inability to agree policy on any of the above. Very clear green water was put between both parties- subject for another blog perhaps.

The next topic is one I could write chapters on also. John’s experience as a Dubliner on North Down Council and his thoughts on the administration in Stormont. I have some personal experience of both myself.

When John was co-opted onto the council to replace Steven Agnew he was, understandably, the only Dub on the Council. The most unionist council there is. He was unsure what reception to expect. It was, for the most part, polite and “diplomatic” if not overwhelmingly welcoming. Until, that is, a certain DUP senior member leaned across to pass a smart comment about his “funny” accent “sotto voce”. John leaned back and replied “sotto voce” “I’m your worst nightmare mate. A Taig with a PHD”

Our discussion on Stormont is best summed up with a succinct quote by John which I thought summed a lot up with very few words: “We tend to elect negotiators, not legislators” Enough said.

We ended our discussion with a reflection on President Michael D Higgins meeting with Queen Elizabeth today. As Equals. That is a true Republican ideal. It is also a degree of progress. John thought, and I agree with him. that Martin McGuinness attending the state banquet tonight was leadership and stepping ahead of the electorate.  He made the very astute point that being a step ahead of your consituency was good politics. Being five steps ahead is a very risky place to be unless you are a very confident politician.

May is looking interesting.

 

 

 

 

New DEA Lisburn and Castlereagh


And so we continue with Faha’s series looking at Lisburn and Castlereagh (Famous for their openness and embracing attitude towards new media ;-) ). Nice to see Faha getting some kudos from Nicolas Whyte over on Slugger for this series and well deserved in my opinion. 

This 9th analysis of the new district councils will cover the new Lisburn Castlereagh district council. This new council comprises the majority of the current Lisburn and Castlereagh councils. However, large areas of the current councils were transferred to the new Belfast council so there have been significant boundary changes at the interface between Belfast and Lisburn and Castlereagh. Approximately 85% of the population of the Dunmurry Cross DEA, 40% of the Castlereagh West DEA, 25% of the Castlereagh East DEA and almost the entire Castlereagh Central DEA were transferred to Belfast City Council. A small section of the Drumbo ward was also transferred to Belfast. The demographic breakdown of the new council is 23.95% Catholic, 66.9% Protestant, 1.07% Other and 8.08% None. The following shows the change in the turnout for the nationalist and unionist parties comparing the 2005 and 2011 district council elections.

Lisburn1

Lisburn2

The election turnout for the 2005 and 2011 elections indicate:

#1 There was a steep decline in turnout between the 2005 and 2011 elections.

#2 In Lisburn, nationalist turnout is much lower than unionist turnout. The only exception is Dunmurry Cross and most of Dunmurry Cross has been transferred to Belfast. Lisburn South has the lowest nationalist turnout of all DEA’s in Northern Ireland. The nationalist turnout in 2011, especially in Lisburn South, is what one would expect with an organized nationalist boycott of the election. Indeed, 2,500 additional nationalist voters would have had to vote in 2011 in order to equal unionist turnout in the 4 DEA’s that will remain in Lisburn Castlereagh.

#3 In Castlereagh, nationalist voter turnout for the West, South and Central DEA’s was slightly higher than unionist turnout in the 2005 election but declined at a greater rate than unionist turnout and equaled the unionist turnout in 2011.

#4 In the 2011 Assembly election, nationalist voter apathy (approximately 2,300 voter deficit within the Lagan Valley boundaries) resulted in no nationalist representation from Lagan Valley in the Assembly. The SDLP candidate was 1,700 short of a quota on the final count.

The change in the party vote between 2005 and 2011 is as follows:

Lisburn 5

In Lisburn, there was a large shift of SDLP voters to SF in Dunmurry. In the other 4 DEA’s the SF and SDLP vote increased. However, the nationalist turnout decreased by an average of 10% per DEA because of the large increase in the nationalist electorate. This increase in electorate is mainly due to Catholics moving into Lisburn from Belfast and elsewhere. Few of these additional voters actually vote which accounts for the decline in turnout. There was a huge collapse in the UUP vote. In Killultagh they defected to Alliance but in the other DEA’s the UUP voters stayed home. The DUP vote was also down slightly.

In Castlereagh, there was also a huge collapse in the UUP vote. In the East and West DEA’s it defected to Alliance. The decline in the DUP vote was almost as massive as the decline for the UUP. There was some defection of SDLP voters to SF in the West DEA and a few in the South DEA. There has been a large increase in the nationalist electorate in the West, South and Central DEA’s but no increase in votes for nationalist candidates. This accounts for the large decline in nationalist turnout between 2005 and 2011.

The new DEA’s bear little resemblance to the old ones (see map). Castlereagh East lost 2 wards to Belfast and added Moneyreagh. Castlereagh South was merged with half of Castlereagh West. In Lisburn, the current Killultagh and Downshire DEA’s were rearranged into 3 separate DEA’s. The predicted election results are based on the 2011 turnout.

Lisburn 4
The average ward electorate is 2372. The total electorate and average ward electorate for each DEA is.

Killultagh                   12872 (2574)

Downshire West      11691 (2338)

Downshire East        11535 (2307)

Lisburn South            14544 (2424)

Lisburn North            14285 (2381)

Castlereagh South    16342 (2335)

Castlereagh East       13645 (2274)

It is difficult to compare the party makeup of the current councils with the new councils because all of the Castlereagh Central, most of  the Dunmurry Cross and much of the Castlereagh East and West DEA’s have been transferred to Belfast. For purposes of comparison I have used the election results for all of the current DEA’s except Dunmurry Cross and Castlereagh Central since only small sections of these DEA’s will be within the new council. The parties had the following makeup after the 2011 elections.

SF     0  SDLP   4  Alliance   7  Green    1  UUP       7  DUP      21

Total               40

The expected party strength in the new council with the new DEA boundaries:

SF         0 SDLP     5  Alliance  8  Green    0  UUP       6  DUP      21

Total    40

Similar to Mid and East Antrim, this will be a DUP dominated council. Unlike Mid and East Antrim, there is a rapid growth of the Catholic population in most of the new council. It was over 5% in the Lisburn area (the Lagan Valley constituency increase from 13% to over 18%) and also 5% in the Castlereagh area. Even in the 2014 election, if nationalist turnout equaled unionist turnout, there would be a SDLP seat in Lisburn South and a SF seat in Killultagh. Both of these would be at the expense of the DUP. There would still be 25 DUP and UUP councilors. In another 15 or 20 years there could be additional nationalist councilors in Lisburn North, South, Downshire East and West and Castlereagh South ( possibly Alliance here instead). This may not be a unionist dominated council in 15 to 20 years.

 

An Ever Changing Face


The 3rd  Annual Northern Ireland Peace Monitoring Report has been released by Dr Paul Nolan. It may be viewed in its entirety Here.

Age profile

Demographic trends point to seismic shifts in Northern Ireland / NI Peace Monitoring Report 2014

Of particular interest to this blog are the findings and observations on the demographic changes happening at an ever increasing pace across the North. Of course, regular readers of this blog will hardly be surprised by the findings. I was interested to note that there is no longer any debate about what change is occurring or the speed at which it is happening. The bloggerati, academics, mainstream media and, yes, even the “letsgetalongerists” (copyright FJH ;-) ) are now debating the effects of the changes and the opinions of the population. Opinions that may become apparent in a meaningful way at the upcoming May elections.

Some interesting examples are Here and Here.

A subject we have visited before is noted, the changing demographic profile of various wards in Belfast:

Belfast is experiencing dramatic population shifts / NI Peace Monitoring Report 2014

Belfast is experiencing dramatic population shifts / NI Peace Monitoring Report 2014

The most dramatic changes at ward level in Belfast the North are noted are as follows:

ten-wards-greatest-protestant-decrease

 

As Alan in Belfast notes over on Slugger “Unionism might want to wake up to reality of NI’s changing demographic and adjust their age-old strategy of scaremongering and find a more positive way to engage in political negotiation.”

The report in itself collates information from a number of sources including some that we have mined here. It presents it’s findings in a clear readable style and I would recommend a full read to all as linked above. In essence it charts the rapidly changing economic, political, demographic and educational face of this part of the world. As we all know, change is inevitable, it is how we react to and manage those changes that determines what we will become in coming days.

Antrim and Newtownabbey


And so onto the next in the series. I’ve long been curious about Antrim in particular as I consider it a changing town. Over to Faha:

This 8th analysis of the new district councils will cover the new Antrim Newtownabbey council. This new district council comprises all of the current Antrim and Newtownabbey councils. The demographic breakdown is 29.74% Catholic, 61.1% Protestant, 1.09% Other and 8.08% None. The following shows the change in the turnout for the nationalist and unionist parties comparing the 2005 and 2011 district council elections.

Nabbey1

Nabbey2

The election turnout for the 2005 and 2011 elections indicate:

#1 There was a steep decline in turnout between the 2005 and 2011 elections.

#2 Unionist turnout is much higher than nationalist turnout in all DEA’s except Northwest, where turnout is equal.

#3 Almost 2,500 additional nationalist voters would have had to vote in 2011 in order to equal unionist turnout.

#4 In the 2011 Assembly election, nationalist voter apathy (approximately 1,400 voters within the boundaries of the South Antrim constituency), resulted in the defeat of the SDLP candidate, who lost by approximately 1,200 votes.

#5 Nationalist voter apathy in the Macedon and Antrim Line DEA’s also affects the North Belfast Westminster election. There is approximately a 700 vote nationalist voter deficit within the boundaries of the Newtownabbey section of North Belfast, which is 1/3 of the votes by which Gerry Kelly lost his election to Nigel Dodds in 2010.

The percentage change in the party vote between 2005 and 2011 is as follows:

Nabbey3

For Newtownabbey, the SDLP vote decline in Antrim Line DEA defected to SF. The increase in SF and SDLP vote in University DEA is entirely due to the fact that the 2011 election is the only election in which SF and the SDLP have competed here. The SDLP decline in Macedon is entirely due to no candidate and the 2005 voters voted SF or Alliance. The increased Alliance vote is mainly due to UUP voters who have defected to Alliance, which accounts for the decline the UUP vote in 2011. There was also a steep decline in the DUP and independent unionist vote.

For Antrim, there was a sharp decline in the SDLP vote. There was also a steep decline in the UUP vote and a similar increase in the Alliance vote, indicating that many UUP voters defected to the Alliance party. The decline in the DUP vote in Southeast DEA is due to voters that defected to the TUV.

The new DEA’s bear some resemblance to the old ones (see map). The Northwest DEA (now Dunsilly) has been expanded to include Parkgate ward and a section of Doagh ward and now has a slight Protestant majority. All the town of Antrim is now included in one DEA. The predicted election results are based on the 2011 turnout.

Nabbey 4

The average ward electorate is 2355. The total electorate and average ward electorate for each DEA is.

Dunsilly              11939 (2388)

Antrim                14414 (2402)

Airport               12751 (2550)

Ballyclare           12411 (2482)

Glengormley     15523 (2218)

Macedon           13171 (2195)

3 Mile Water     14005 (2334)

The current Antrim and Newtownabbey councils had the following party strength after the 2011 elections.

SF                 6

SDLP             4

Alliance       7

UUP             10

DUP             17

Total           44

The expected party strength in the new council with the new DEA boundaries:

SF                 5

SDLP             3

Alliance       6

UUP             9

DUP             17

Total           40

The new council will have 4 fewer councilors and the net party loss would be.

SF                         -1

SDLP                    -1

Alliance               -1

UUP                      -1

DUP                       0

The new DEA boundaries are favourable to the DUP as they would have the same number of councilors despite 4 fewer councilors in the new council. As in the other councils I have covered to date, low nationalist turnout affects the results. There should be a SDLP councilor elected in Antrim DEA, since the nationalist electorate is approximately 37%, far above 2 quotas (28.6%). However, the 30% nationalist turnout in 2011 is so low that if it does not increase then there will be only one nationalist seat here. There are 1.5 nationalist quotas in Macedon DEA, but with a 28% nationalist turnout in 2011, there will be no nationalist councilors elected in this DEA unless turnout increases. Although this is a unionist majority council, it is possible that in 15 to 20 years there will not be a unionist majority on the council. If nationalist turnout increases to the level of unionist turnout, there would be 2 additional nationalist councilors in Antrim and Macedon. Also, the growth of the Catholic population in Dunsilly, Airport, Glengormley and 3 Mile Water is occurring so rapidly that there would be  one additional nationalist councilor elected in each of these 4 DEA’s 15 years from now. At that point there would be 20 unionist and 20 non unionist councilors (6 Alliance and 14 SF-SDLP).

New Council- Mid and East Antrim


Next up in Faha’s series is the most Unionist County in Ireland. Antrim. Specifically  the “Bible Belt” new council of Mid and East Antrim.

This 7th analysis of the new district councils will cover the new Mid and East Antrim New council mapcouncil. This new council comprises all of the current Ballymena, Larne and Carrickfergus councils. The demographic breakdown is 19.34% Catholic, 72.88% Protestant, 0.8% Other and 6.97% None.

The following shows the change in the turnout for the nationalist and unionist parties comparing the 2005 and 2011 district council elections.

Antrim 1

Antrim 2

Antrim 3

There were no nationalist candidates in all the Carrickfergus DEA’s and Larne Lough DEA. I used the Assembly results to estimate the 2011 turnout as well as turnout in adjoining DEA’s. The election turnout for the 2005 and 2011 elections indicate:

#1 There was a steep decline in turnout between the 2005 and 2011 elections.

#2 Unionist turnout is much higher than nationalist turnout in 8 of the 10 DEA’s. In the other 2 DEA’s, Bannside and Braid, it was slightly higher in the 2011 election.

#3 Almost 3,000 additional nationalist voters would have had to vote in 2011 in order to equal unionist turnout.

#4 In the 2011 Assembly election, nationalist voter apathy (1,400 voter deficit in the Ballymena DEA’s and an additional 300 deficit in Ballymoney Town) resulted in the election of Jim Allister to the Assembly for North Antrim. Jim Allister defeated Decaln O’Loan of the SDLP by only 613 votes.

#5 In the 2011 Assembly election, nationalist voter apathy (1,500 voter deficit in Larne and Carrickfergus) almost resulted in no nationalist representation for East Antrim. The SF MLA was elected with 3,388 votes, 759 votes short of a quota and only 498 votes ahead of a UUP candidate. It was only because 655 DUP and TUV votes that were nontransferable that the UUP candidate was not elected. The census shows 1.56 nationalist quotas based on voting age population.

The percentage change in the party vote between 2005 and 2011 is as follows:

Antrim 4

In Ballymena, the SF vote held steady but the SDLP vote collapsed. There was a large increase in the nationalist electorate but all these additional voters did not vote. The UUP and DUP vote also collapsed. The UUP voters stayed home and the DUP voters mainly defected to the TUV. In Larne, the SDLP and independent nationalist vote was down, with some of these voters accounting for the increased SF vote. A sharp decline in the UUP and DUP vote here also with the UUP voters staying home and the DUP voters defecting to the TUV. The Alliance Green vote has changed little in Larne and Carrickfergus. There was a large decline in the unionist vote for all parties in Carrickfergus.

The new DEA’s bear some resemblance to the old ones (see map). The towns of Ballymena and Larne are divided between 2 DEA’s and the town of Carrickfergus between 3 DEA’s. The predicted election results are based on the 2011 turnout.

Antrim 5

The average ward electorate is 2413. The total electorate and average ward electorate for each DEA is.

Bannside                 14058 (2343)

Braid                        16551 (2364)

Ballymena               15657 (2237)

Coast Road             12435 (2487)

Larne Lough            12848 (2570)

Carrick Castle          12886 (2577)

Knockagh                 12090 (2418)

The current Ballymena, Larne and Carrickfergus district councils had the following party makeup after the 2011 elections.

SF   3   SDLP    3  Alliance  7   UUP   11  DUP   24  TUV    3  Unionist   5

Total                   56

The expected party strength in the new council with the new DEA boundaries:

SF   3  SDLP   2  Alliance   4  UUP   9  DUP    20  TUV   2

Total                      40

The new council will have 16 fewer councilors and the net party loss would be.

SF   0  SDLP     -1 Alliance   -3  UUP     -2  DUP   -4  TUV   -1  Unionist   -5

This council will be dominated by a hard line unionist majority- the DUP and TUV. The TUV could win a seat in Braid DEA at the expense of the UUP, depending on if the size of the nationalist surplus that could transfer to the 2nd UUP candidate. It is possible that an independent unionist could be elected in 1 of the Carrickfergus DEA’s but the increased electorate and increased quota will make it difficult for the election of any independents. The DEA boundaries are actually favourable to the nationalist parties. Despite 16 fewer councilors SF should return the same number with 1 less for the SDLP. There are over 2 nationalist quotas in the Coast Road DEA and if the nationalist turnout ever equals unionist turnout the SDLP would have a seat here. If the SDLP and SF decide to stand candidates in the Larne Lough, Carrick Castle and Knockagh DEA’s, and nationalist turnout equals unionist turnout, then tactical transfers could elect 2nd Alliance candidates in all 3 of these DEA’s. In Ballymena DEA, SF could elect a councilor if they ever organize here. This would be at the expense of the SDLP or a unionist in future elections. While this will always be a unionist dominated council, it is possible that with additional nationalist councilors in Ballymena and Coast Road and additional Alliance councilors in the 3 other DEA’s mentioned, the DUP and TUV would not have a majority on the council.

Newry, Mourne and Down, the New Council


Time for the latest instalment in Faha’s series Folks !

This 6th analysis of the new district councils will cover the Newry Mourne Down council. This new councils comprises the current Newry & Mourne and Down councils as well as most of the Ballyward ward of Banbridge. The demographic breakdown is 72.32% Catholic, 23.91% Protestant, 0.5% Other and 3.27% None.

The following shows the change in the turnout for the nationalist and unionist parties comparing the 2005 and 2011 district council elections.

Newry1

Newry2

The election turnout data for the 2005 and 2011 election show similar conclusions that have been seen other district councils.

#1 There was a steep decline in turnout between the 2005 and 2011 elections.

#2 Unionist turnout is lower than nationalist turnout in the Newry Town, Crotlieve and Downpatrick DEA’s (and probably Slieve Gullion). However, the Protestant population in these DEA’s ranges from only 4% to 13% so the unionist voter deficit is relatively low in absolute numbers.

#3 Nationalist turnout is much lower than unionist turnout in the 2011 election for the Few and the Mournes DEA’s. An additional 2000 nationalist voters would have had to vote in order to equal unionist turnout.

The percentage change in the party vote between 2005 and 2011 is as follows:

Newry3

In Newry and Mourne there was an increase in the SF vote in 3 DEA’s with a decline in Slieve Gullion. There was a large decline in the SDLP vote in 4 DEA’s with the only increase in Crotlieve. There was a large decline in votes for independent nationalists. Most of the decline in the DUP and UUP vote was in the Mournes where it defected to the TUV and UKIP.

In Down there was a large decline in the SDLP vote except in Downpatrick where it increased slightly. The SF vote declined substantially in Downpatrick but not in the other DEA’s where it was stable. The UUP vote was down sharply and the DUP less so. The unionist decline is significant since the unionist electorate is only half the nationalist electorate. However, the decline in the nationalist turnout is also significant since the nationalist electorate increased between 2005 and 2011 but the overall number of votes was down.

The new DEA’s bear little resemblance to the old ones (see map). Downpatrick and Newry Town are little changed. Most of the Fews and Slieve Gullion were combined into the new Slieve Gullion DEA. Most of the Mournes DEA was combined with part of the Newcastle DEA.  The new Slieve Croob DEA consists of parts of the old Ballynahinch and Newcastle DEA’s. Ballynahinch town was added to the Rowallane DEA.

The predicted election results are based on the 2011 turnout.

Newry4

The average ward electorate is 2891.  The total electorate and average ward electorate for each DEA is.

Slieve Gullion                 19268  (2753)

Newry                              18395  (3066)

Crotlieve                          18248  (3041)

The Mournes                  20043  (2863)

Slieve Croob                   14001  (2800)

Downpatrick                   14025  (2805)

Rowallane                       14557  (2911)

The current Newry and Down district councils had the following party makeup after the 2011 elections.

SF     19  SDLP   18  Nationalist   3  Alliance   1  Green   1  UUP      6

DUP    4 TUV     0   Unionist (UKIP)   1  Total   53

The expected party strength in the new council with the new DEA boundaries:

SF      15  SDLP     16  Nationalist    2  Alliance  0  Green     0

UUP    3  DUP        4   TUV     0  Unionist (UKIP) 1  Total     41

The new council will have 12 fewer councilors and the net party loss would be.

SF    -4  SDLP    -2  Nationalist   -1  Alliance      -1  Green         -1

UUP       -3  DUP       0  Unionist (UKIP)   0

On the unionist side the new DEA boundaries are very unfavourable to the UUP as they lose half their councilors while the DUP will lose none. The Green and Alliance parties will be eliminated entirely. There is the possibility of a unionist seat in Crotlieve. The unionist electorate is near 14% with a quota of 14.3%. If the SDLP candidates balance poorly and one is eliminated a UUP candidate could be elected with a few SDLP transfers. On paper it appears that there should be 2 unionist seats in Slieve Croob (unionist electorate approximately 33.5% which is 2 quotas). However, the Protestant population here includes a British military base which is within the DEA. While they show up in the census mainly under Protestant they do not vote here so the true electorate is 2% less.

In future elections the UUP seat in Slieve Gullion would be at risk. The DEA is already 1000 voters short of the average. When the DEA’s are revised in the future at least 1000 nationalist voters will be added from Fathom and the nationalist electorate is increasing every year in the current boundaries. There will be a potential 5th nationalist seat in the future in the Mournes DEA as the current unionist electorate at approximately 40% is just over 3 quotas. Boundary changes here and natural growth will also increase the nationalist electorate.

Derry-Strabane


Continuing Faha’s series on the new District Councils and the electoral possibilities, here we look in detail at one of the safest Nationalist areas.

This 5th analysis of the new district councils will cover the Derry Strabane council. This new council includes all of the current Derry and Strabane councils. The religious demographic breakdown is 72.16% Catholic 25.4% Protestant 0.64% Derry Peace BridgeOther and 1.8% None. In the original 7 council model the nationalist majority Limavady council was included in this council. However, the DUP transferred Limavady to the unionist majority Causeway Coast and Glens council thereby preventing the unionist population of Limavady from remaining in a nationalist majority council. The nationalist majority population of Limavady, instead of becoming part of the nationalist majority Derry Strabane council, was transferred to unionist majority Causeway Coast and Glens council.

The following shows the change in the turnout for the nationalist and unionist parties comparing the 2005 and 2011 district council elections.

Derry2

 

Derry1

 

For the current Strabane district council the 2005 and 2011 elections show:

#1 There was a large percentage drop in turnout between the 2005 and 2011 elections.

#2 The percentage decline in turnout was equal between the unionist and nationalist communities.

#3 Nationalist turnout is lower than unionist turnout in the rural DEA’s but higher in the urban Mourne DEA. Overall, nationalist turnout is lower than unionist turnout and 400 additional nationalist voters would have had to vote in 2011 to equal unionist turnout.

For the current Derry district council the2005 and 2011 elections show:

#1 There was a large percentage drop in turnout between the 2005 and 2011 elections.

#2 Nationalist turnout decline was greater than unionist turnout decline in the Rural and Waterside DEA’s.

#3 Nationalist turnout is high in the Cityside, Shantallow and Northland DEA’s and there was only a slight decline between the 2005 and 2011 elections.

There were no unionist candidates in the Cityside, Shantallow and Northland DEA’s so it is difficult to determine how many unionist voters voted. Comparing the Assembly vote totals with the district council vote totals seems to show a unionist turnout of less than 30% for these DEA’s but there are few unionist voters in these DEA’s.

The percentage change in the party vote between 2005 and 2011 is as follows:

Derry3

 

In Derry council there was a steep decline in the SDLP and SF vote in all DEA’s. The decline was greater for the SDLP. The only exception was an increase in the SF vote of 564 in the Rural DEA. The SDLP voters stayed home. The SF decline appears to be votes that were lost to independent nationalists. There was also a large decline in the DUP vote, mainly in the Waterside DEA.

In Strabane DEA the SF and SDLP vote declined sharply. The SDLP decline in Mourne DEA was partly due to a former SDLP councilor who stood as an independent and the SF decline in Mourne was partly due to votes lost to a dissident republican candidate.

The new DEA’s bear some resemblance to the old ones (see map). There were minor ward changes in Derry. Waterside was expanded to include some nationalist areas further south. The major change involves the new Sperrin DEA, which includes the current Banagher ward, and most of the current Glenelly and Mourne DEA’s. . The predicted election results are based on the 2011 turnout.

Derry 4

 

The average ward electorate is 2550.  The total electorate and average ward electorate for each DEA is.

The Moor:       12353 (2471)

Foyleside:        12604 (2521)

Ballyarnett:     15964 (2661)

Waterside:       18524 (2646)

Faughan:          12917 (2583)

Sperrin:            17135 (2448)

Derg:                12493 (2499)

The current Derry and Strabane district councils had the following party makeup after the 2011 elections.

SF                 18  SDLP             15  Nationalist   2  Alliance        0  UUP               2

DUP               9  TUV                0  Unionist        0  Total             46

The expected party strength in the new council with the new DEA boundaries:

SF                 15  SDLP             15  Nationalist   0  Alliance        0  UUP               2

DUP               8  TUV                0  Unionist        0  Total             40

The new council will have 6 fewer councilors and the net party loss would be.

SF   -3  SDLP    0  Nationalist    -2  UUP        0  DUP      -1

In Ballyarnett, an independent nationalist could be elected instead of a 4th SDLP depending on balancing and transfers. In Waterside, the UUP is at risk of losing their seat. In 2014, the Catholic electorate would now be over 9000. If the nationalist turnout was at least 5% higher than the unionist turnout (as it was in 2005), then a 2nd SF candidate could be elected. It depends on how much effort SF is willing to expend here. The 7 seats in Sperrin are the most difficult to predict. There were 3 independent nationalist candidates in the Mourne DEA in 2011- 1 a recent SDLP councilor and 1 a dissident republican.  All 3 had their base in Mourne and 2 were elected. It is unclear whether any of them will compete in 2014. Also, 40% of the new nationalist electorate is outside of the current Mourne DEA so it is likely that all 3 would poll poorly in those areas. It is also not definite that the DUP would elect 2. The unionist electorate is 26% but only 7% of that will go to the UUP. Some UUP transfers will go to the SDLP or independent nationalists. If nationalist turnout increases here, the DUP could be short 2 quotas and another nationalist candidate could be elected.

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