Number 1 of a series by Faha

This is the first in a series of 11 posts on the 11 new District Councils. In this analysis I will present election data on the current 26 councils. In estimating the voter turnout among nationalist and unionist voters I have relied on the 2001 census and the 2011 census for the voting age population. For the 2005 election I have used the 2001 census data and for the 2011 election I used the 2011 census data. The 2011 census was held just over a month prior to the election and should be very accurate. The 2005 turnout data for the unionist population should be accurate since the increase in the unionist electorate was only 10,000 between the 2001 census and the 2011 census. The 2005 turnout data for the nationalist population would overestimate the nationalist turnout since the nationalist voting age population increased by almost 100,000 between the 2001 census and the 2011 census. 30,000 of that increase would have occurred by 2005. In determining turnout I assume that net cross community voting balances out.

Numerous polls have shown (Spotlight Poll most recent) that only 1% of Catholics prefer a unionist party for their 1st preference and 1% of Protestants prefer a nationalist party for their 1st preference. For those who give their religion as Other or None, approximately 25% give a nationalist party for their 1st preference, 35% give a unionist party for their 1st preference and 40% give Alliance, Green or independents as their 1st preference. Whenever possible, I use the actual election transfers from Alliance, Green or independent candidates when calculating turnout.

For the new councils I have used the 2011 census age religion data. Since the new DEA’s are often different than the current ones, predicting the 2014 election results involves some speculation.

I will start out west with the new Fermanagh-Omagh district council. The nationalist and unionist turnout of the voting age population was:

2005                     2011

Erne East

Nationalist                    88%                      75%

Unionist                        82%                      76%

Erne West

Nationalist                   81%                       72%

Unionist                       81%                       70%

Erne North

Nationalist                  63%                         53%        (1,000 voter deficit)

Unionist                      77%                         74%


Nationalist                  60%                         50%         (1,000 voter deficit)

Unionist                       68%                         62%

Mid Tyrone

Nationalist                  82%                         61%

Unionist                       79%                         61%

West Tyrone

Nationalist                  81%                          62%       (500 voter deficit)

Unionist                       84%                          68%

Omagh Town

Nationalist                 59%                           46%       (750 voter deficit)

Unionist                      52%                           55%


In looking at this data there are some obvious conclusions.

#1 Turnout is much higher in rural areas than in the towns.

#2 Turnout dropped dramatically between the 2005 and 2011 elections.

#3   In rural DEA’s nationalist and unionist turnout is equal except for Erne North, where nationalist turnout is much less than unionist turnout for both elections. Indeed, 1,000 more nationalist voters would have had to vote in 2011 in order to equal the unionist turnout.

#4 Nationalist turnout is much less than unionist turnout in Enniskillen and Omagh Towns for the 2011 election. 1,000 and 750 more nationalist voters respectively would have had to vote in order to equal unionist turnout.

The new DEA’s have the following religion voting age breakdown. The number of councilors to be elected and quota is in parenthesis.

Erne East (6) (14.3%)             Catholic                Protestant            Other/None

7391                         3867                        209

64.5%                     33.7%                     1.8%

Erne West (5) (16.7%)              7179                      3016                        234

68.8%                     28.9%                      2.2%

Erne North (5) (16.7%)            5170                       5083                      230

49.3%                     48.5%                    2.2%

Enniskillen (6) (14.3%)             7637                       6296                       519

52.8%                      43.6%                    3.6%

For the Fermanagh DEA’s there will be no change with 4 nationalist and 2 unionist councilors in Erne East and 4 nationalist and 1 unionist in Erne West. The new Erne North has a nationalist majority and should elect 3 nationalist councilors. However, the nationalist turnout is so poor relative to unionist turnout that 3 unionists should be elected comfortably.  The new Enniskillen DEA will lose a nationalist councilor-the current DEA has 7 councilors and the new one 6. Even though there are more than 1,300 potential nationalist voters compared to the unionist electorate it appears that the unionist candidates will receive more votes than nationalist candidates due to the poor nationalist turnout.

The Omagh DEA’s have only one geographical change. Killyclogher ward was moved from Mid Tyrone to Omagh. The number of councilors in the 3 DEA’s was also reduced from 7 to 6.

West Tyrone (6) (14.3%)         Catholic              Protestant            Other/None

8101                         4082                        190

65.5%                      33%                         1.5%

Mid Tyrone (6) (14.3%)             9958                      3051                         182

75.5%                    23.1%                      1.4%

Omagh (6) (14.3%)                    10268                    3979                          417

70%                       27.1%                       2.9%

West Tyrone will elect 4 nationalist and 2 unionist councilors with a net loss of one nationalist councilor. Mid Tyrone should elect 5 nationalist and 1 unionist based on the electorate numbers. However, there should also been only 1 unionist councilor elected in 2011 but the DUP finished 170 votes ahead of ( and under quota)  a SF candidate because 240 nationalist votes did not transfer to SF. So there could be 2 unionist councilors elected here also for a net loss of 1 nationalist councilor. Omagh Town should elect 5 nationalist and 1 unionist based on the 2005 turnout figures but 4 nationalist and 2 unionist based on the 2011 turnout. There may be a net loss of 1 nationalist councilor here also.

The new district council will elect 40 councilors whereas the current Omagh and Fermanagh councils elect 44 combined. Based on turnout figures in 2011, the 4 fewer councilors will all be nationalist losses. It could be 2 nationalist and 2 unionist losses depending on nationalist turnout and transfers in Omagh and Mid Tyrone.