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.

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