Here is the next part of Fahas series on the new Council areas. It examines the abandonment  of Moyle and Limavady to a geographically limited Unionist dominated super Council. For what it’s worth I am of the opinion that 6 county councils plus Belfast is the way to go.

This 4th analysis of the new district councils will cover the Causeway Coast and Glens council. This new council includes all of the current Limavady, Coleraine, Ballymoney and Moyle district councils. The religious demographic breakdown is 54.79% Protestant, 40.21% Catholic, 0.65% Other and 4.35% None. This configuration of the council is not the original one. In the original 7 council proposal Limavady was joined with Derry in a nationalist majority council. When the Stormont Assembly was reconvened in 2007 SF supported the original 7 council proposal. The DUP was not satisfied with this proposal and devised an 11 council proposal. They saw an opportunity here and transferred the nationalist Limavady council to this new council. At the other end the nationalist Moyle council was also included. The final result was to transfer 2 nationalist controlled councils (and the unionist populations of these councils) to a new unionist majority council. SF supported the DUP proposal in the Executive and for unknown reasons declined to use their veto. The end result is that the nationalist populations of Limavady and Moyle will now be under unionist domination. This is another example of a brilliant DUP gerrymander. Limavady council more logically belongs with Derry rather than the Glens of Moyle.

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




Causeway 2





For the current Limavady and Coleraine district councils 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 Turnout is higher in rural areas compared to urban areas.

#4 Nationalist turnout is lower than unionist turnout in every DEA for both elections.

#5Nationalist turnout is much lower than unionist turnout in the DEA’s of Limavady Town, Coleraine Central, Coleraine East and Skerries.

# 6 An additional 3,100 nationalist voters would have had to vote in 2011 order to equal the unionist turnout.

On looking at these turnout figures my first question would be- Who is organizing the nationalist voting boycott in Coleraine town, Skerries and Limavady Town? The 2011 turnouts are what one would see with an organized boycott of the election. Overall 75% of nationalist voters stayed home in the urban Coleraine area and 2/3 in Limavady Town. In the Assembly election the quota was only 4,961. If nationalist turnout had equaled unionist turnout there would have been another 60% of a quota for an Assembly candidate. Just a short distance away in the Magherafelt DEA of Sperrin, nationalist turnout was 88% in 2005.

In the Moyle and Ballymoney councils there are some similarities and differences compared to Limavady and Coleraine.

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

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

#3 Turnout is higher in rural areas compared to urban areas.

#4 Nationalist turnout is much lower than unionist turnout in the Ballymoney Town DEA but unionist turnout is much lower than nationalist turnout in The Glens and Ballycastle DEA’s.

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

Causeway 4


In Limavady council the nationalist turnout has declined steeply because of a collapse in the SDLP vote and the increase in the nationalist electorate. The UUP and DUP vote are both down, except in Benbradagh DEA, where the DUP picked up votes from the 2005 UUC vote.

In Coleraine there has been a steep decline in the DUP and UUP vote. The decline in the UUP vote in Coleraine Central is misleading since the independent vote was that of David McClarty, who was deselected by the UUP. The SDLP vote collapsed despite a large increase in the nationalist electorate between 2001 and 2011.

In Moyle there was a large defection of SDLP and SF voters to independent nationalists.  The DUP vote was also down here. Ballymoney Town is another example of extreme nationalist apathy as nationalist turnout was only 23%, half the unionist turnout of 46%.

The new DEA’s bear little resemblance to the old ones (see map). Benbradagh and Limavady Town have each taken half of Bellarena. Coleraine town is now all in the same DEA. The new Causeway DEA consists of Skerries, rural Coleraine East and parts of the Giants Causeway and Ballymoney areas. Ballycastle and The Glens were combined with part of Bushvale and Ballymoney Town was combined with Bann Valley. Only the Bann DEA is unchanged. The predicted election results are based on the 2011 turnout.

Causeway 5


The current Limavady, Coleraine, Ballymoney and Moyle councils had this party makeup after the 2011 elections:

SF                 13  SDLP              9   Nationalist   4  Alliance        2  UUP            6 DUP               2   TUV                 15  Unionist         3

Total            68

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

SF                 9  SDLP            7   Alliance       1  UUP             6  DUP            15   TUV               1

Unionist       1

Total          40

The new council will have 28 fewer councilors and the net party loss would be.


SF                 -4  SDLP             -2  Nationalist  -4  Alliance        -1  UUP              -6

DUP               -7  TUV                -2  Unionist        -2

The new DEA boundaries are unfavourable to the UUP, TUV and independent nationalists and unionists. In the short term they are neutral between the nationalist and unionist parties. In the long term, in another 10 to 20 years, they are favourable to the nationalist parties. Limavady has a slight Protestant voting age population majority at 51.3% (approximately 53% unionist including some Other/None). Coleraine has a Catholic electorate of 25% (appoximately 27% nationalist including some Other/None) just short of 2 quotas (28.6%). Causeway is 20.55% Catholic (approximately 22% nationalist including some Other/None) just short of 2 quotas (25%). Ballymoney is 30.2% Catholic (approximately 32% nationalist including some Other/None).  There is a potential for 4 more nationalist seats in the next 10 to 20 years. These additional seats will not occur unless the nationalist voters in these DEA’s actually start voting. It is not possible to win elections with the very low nationalist turnouts in these DEA’s. If SF ever organizes in Coleraine and Causeway they have the potential for seats in both those DEA’s. The same is true for the SDLP in the Limavady and Ballymoney DEA’s. As in the new Armagh Banbridge Craigavon council, the DUP should be congratulated for their shrewdness in devising this new unionist majority council while at the same time bringing 2 nationalist councils under unionist control.