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.





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:



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.