DCSIMG

The battle for the Waterside

The Waterside electoral area has swollen to incorporate Summer Meadows,  parts of Ivy Meade, Prehen and the Strabane Old Road. There are now 18,680 electors compared with 15,252 in 2011.

The Waterside electoral area has swollen to incorporate Summer Meadows, parts of Ivy Meade, Prehen and the Strabane Old Road. There are now 18,680 electors compared with 15,252 in 2011.

  • by Kevin Mullan
 

The Waterside District Electoral Area has long been the epicentre of political unionism in Londonderry and there are four bolt-on seats for the mainstream unionist parties here this year, as always: three DUP; one UUP.

It’s noteworthy that for this, the inaugural election to the new Derry and Strabane Council, it’s a bigger electoral area than previously.

Gone is the old Altnagelvin ward, and in its wake comes the new Drumahoe ward.

The DEA has also swollen to include the distinctly middle-class looking Summer Meadows, parts of Ivy Mead, Prehen and the Strabane Old Road.

There are now 18,680 electors compared with 15,252 in 2011, a significant increase.

In terms of the quota to get elected, looking at the last series of local elections, the percentage of valid votes cast versus total electorate has varied from 59 per cent in 1997, to 65 per cent in 2001, to 63 per cent in 2005 to 53 per cent in 2011.

So if, say, 58 per cent of the electorate cast valid votes this time - it seems reasonable to assume a decent enough turnout given the heightened politicisation of recent weeks and months - the quota will be a higher than normal looking 1,300 or so.

This means the DUP’s point man Drew Thompson will likely top the poll on the first count, although he’ll be pushed close by Gerard Diver of the SDLP.

A high poll by Mr Thompson will likely drag at least one of the DUP’s new faces over quota following the transfer of Mr Thompson’s surplus.

But the UUP’s Mary Hamilton might also push strongly for a quota once Mr Thompson’s transfers are dealt out as one of the more familiar unionists on the ballot paper, if she’s not there already.

A third DUP candidate will at the very least be dragged to a safe enough total for a seat following the initial divving out of the first unionist transfers.

Mr Diver’s transfers will then likely secure the election of the number one Sinn Féin candidate (looking like Christopher Jackson) as well as Martin Reilly, who will probably benefit from his experience as Mayor during Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013 to see off the strong challenges of the UUP’s rising star locally, Julia Kee, as well as the second Sinn Féin and fourth DUP candidates.

Independent Mickey Carlin

About: A community worker of long-standing based in the largely nationalist Currynierin area, Mickey Carlin is standing for election in this area for the first time.

He has acted as voluntary and community representative on the 21 member Waterside Neighbourhood Partnership Board on behalf of the Currynierin Community Association.

Mr Carlin has long been vocal on the issue of drugs in working class communities, most recently raising the issue of emergent legal highs and the impact these are having on local young people.

Also expect the proposed closure of Immaculate Conception College to figure during his election canvas. He has backing of a number of disgruntled ‘St Brecan’s’ parents.

Chances: None. Despite the St Brecan’s issue, independents don’t get elected here.

SDLP Gerard Diver

About: A Derry City Council veteran Gerard Diver came second in the poll in the Waterside area in his first ever contest in 2001.

He could have taken voluntary severance last year after serving for 12 years but chose not to and is too young for that yet.

He’s been Mayor and is currently the Chair of one of DCC’s most important committees, Policy and Resources, the one that sets the rates.

He’s also a Co-ordinator of the Strive 2 Work programme for the Cresco Trust.

Chances: Cert. Will exceed quota on first count, most likely, narrowly trailing Drew Thompson.

PUP Nigel Gardiner

About: It’s the former shirt cutter and current communtiy worker’s second tilt at a local election seat having polled 204 for the PUP in 2011.

Loyalists don’t generally get elected to Derry City Council, although Ken Kerr of the UDA-aligned Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) did buck this trend in 1989.

Mr Gardiner, a member of the PUP, which played a key role in securing the UVF’s support for the peace process, will be the first loyalist candidate to serve locally in over two decades, if he’s elected.

Chances: None. Mr Gardiner polled 204 on the first count and attracted 121 transfers from the DUP, UUP, Alliance and People Before Profit before being excluded in 2011.

An improvement on this (in percentage terms, that is, there are more electors this time out) with two other fringe unionists and an extra UUP candidate in the mix) would be impressive.

UUP Mary Hamilton

About: The now 72-year-old UUP veteran is as traditional a member of that party as you’re likely to find but also very popular right across the wider community.

First elected to Derry City Council in 2001, you’ld have forgiven Mrs Hamilton for taking voluntary severance last year.

She could, of course, get elected now, shortly afterwards stand down, allowing the co-option of a like-minded colleague in the not-so-distant future.

Over the past three elections, Mrs Hamilton, has built up a solid not-quite-quota of around 1k first preferences.

Chances: Cert. Will, at worst, be elected following distribution of DUP second preferences.

The fact that - alongside Drew Thompson - she’s the only long-standing unionist councillor - may also work in her favour this time out.

Sinn Féin Christopher Jackson

About: One of two new Sinn Féin candidates contesting this election in the Waterside area.

A vice chair of the Sean Dolan Sinn Féin Cumann – Waterside, Mr Jackson, served as election agent for Lynn Fleming during in 2011.

Ms Fleming, decided to avail of the voluntary severance package, for councillors of 12 years’ service or more, having been first elected in 1997.

Over four elections, she and the local Sinn Féin organisation steadily grew that vote, and Ms Fleming secured a first count quota for the first time in 2011.

Chances: It depends on what Sinn Féin’s ward-by-ward strategy is for its two new election hopefuls. But there’s certainly a quota and quite a bit more for Sinn Féin in this area - particularly with new Summer Meadows, Strabane Old Road and Prehen electors.

One certain seat for Sinn Féin but the party faces an uphill battle if it is to clinch the last seat in a four way tussle with the the SDLP, the UUP and the DUP.

UUP Julia Kee

About: A well-known figure in community and sporting circles, Julia Kee’s candidature marks the first time since 2001, that the UUP locally have ventured a second name on the ballot paper.

Over recent years, she’s helped roll out the successful Gateways to Protestant Participation (GPP) programme with the YMCA and St Columb’s Park House.

This work has resulted in important new initiatives such as the Londonderry Bands Forum. The GPP has also provided many PUL groups across Londonderry, Strabane, Donegal and Omagh with greater expertise in accesing funding and support from statutory and EU sources.

Chances: Ms Kee can certainly count on around 100 transfers from Mary Hamilton. Back in 2001 when the the UUP ran three candidates! there were 459 non-Hamilton UUP first preferences. UUP support has dwindled province-wide since then.

Expect a strong showing but Mr Diver’s transfers are likely to see Martin Reilly take the last seat, at Ms Kee’s expense.

Alliance Party Asta Kereviciene

About: Kaunas-native Asta Kereviciene takes on the baton from Karen Scrivens (2011) and Colm Cavanagh (2001) and will set about the Sisyphean chore of winning a seat for the Alliance Party in this area.

Ms Kereviciene walks the walk in terms of the Alliance Party’s manifesto promise of regenerating local high streets and town centres.

For example, she runs the Asta European food store on Spencer Road, which specialises in food from her native Lithunia and other parts of Easter Europe.

Chances: None. There is no unionist-lite constituency here. Alliance candidates attract between 150 and 300, at best, including transfers. Despite the swollen elecorate this total is unlikely to increase.
Anna Lo’s recent acknowledgement that she is, in fact, a United Irelander, won’t help attract what few very-liberal unionists there are out there.

UKIP David Malcolm

About: Former Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG) representative for Londonderry, David Malcolm, is one of two UKIP candidates running in the Waterside area.

Mr Malcolm is a recognisable loyalist figure in the Waterside.

For a number of years he acted as a spokesperson for the UPRG, a group that played a key role in securing the support of the UDA for the peace process.

UKIP is testing the ground in the Waterside for the first time.

A former solider and fire-fighter he’s involved with a number of disabled and veterans groups and has been active in addressing issues raised throughout the Waterside since joining UKIP. He has been involved with a number of community groups over the years.

It robustly rejects accusations that it is racist or sectarian. In its local election policy document it advocates a form of direct democracy whereby petitions would be used to prompt referenda on local government policy.

It has, however, no means of implementing this policy, unless it massively boosts its representation at Stormont or persuades the mainstream parties to support the policy.

Chances: None. As a fringe unionist party - albeit something of an unknown quantity - UKIP aren’t likely to poll particularly strongly.

The fringe unionist constituency is around 2.5 per cent of first preferences.

Being generous and artificially boosting this to five per cent for the sake of argument and three fringe unionist/loyalist canididates share 500 first preferences,

DUP Hilary McClintock

About: A Waterside community worker, Hilary McClintock, has worked for over a decade as a community development officer at the Waterside Area Partnership.

She’s one of three new faces on the DUP ticket in the Waterside area, Drew Thompson being the only serving councillor running again.

With the departure of Joe Miller and April Garfield-Kidd, this is a straightfroward passing on of the baton.

Chances: The DUP has between 40 and 50 per cent of the vote here, regardless what people on the TV or the radio say about mainstream parties. It depends on the DUP’s ward-by-ward election strategy. There are three secure DUP seats in this area but probably not four.

DUP Niree McMorris

About: A Waterside community worker who has served as Chairperson of Lisnagelvin Women’s Group, Niree McMorris is one of three new faces running for the DUP in the Waterside.

She was recently recognised for her contribution to Women’s Community Development in Derry City Council’s Woman of the Year 2014 awards at the City Hotel.

In 2009 she was one of eighty-five local data collectors who interviewed people in the Waterside to inform Ilex’s regeneration plans for the city.

Chances: The DUP has between 40 and 50 per cent of the vote here, regardless what people on the TV or the radio say about mainstream parties. It depends on the DUP’s ward-by-ward election strategy. There are three secure DUP seats in this area but probably not four.

Sinn Féin Bridget Meehan

About: One of two new Sinn Féin candidates contesting this election in the Waterside, Bridget Meehan was co-opted onto Derry City Council last year following the decision by councillor Lynn Fleming to avail of a voluntary service package for long-serving public servants.

Ms Meehan, originally from Donegal, has a master’s degree and PhD in computer science and has also worked as a strategy manager for the Neighbourhood Renewal Board in the Waterside.

Chances: It depends on what Sinn Féin’s ward-by-ward strategy is for its two new election hopefuls.

But there’s certainly a quota and quite a bit more for Sinn Féin in this area - particularly with new Summer Meadows, Strabane Old Road and Prehen electors.

One certain seat for Sinn Féin but the party faces an uphill battle if it is to clinch the last seat in a four way tussle with the the SDLP, the UUP and the DUP.

DUP David Ramsey

About: David Ramsey is one of three new faces on the DUP bill.

The Newbuildings resident is well-known in local sporting and loyal order organisations.

He has also served as Governor at a local school and has advocated that more people get involved in this kind of public service.

Chances: The DUP has between 40 and 50 per cent of the vote here, regardless what people say about mainstream parties on the TV or the radio talk shows.

It depends on the DUP’s ward-by-ward election strategy. There are three secure DUP seats in this area but probably not four.

SDLP Martin Reilly

About: Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013 Mayor for the latter half of the year in the cultural limelight, Martin Reilly’s been globe-trotting over recent months promoting the city in Singapore and San Francisco during Clipper stopovers.

It will be the Fermanagh native’s third local election having relied on transfers to overhaul a substantial first count deficit against the DUP’s Mildred Garfield in 2005 in a tight battle for the last seat.

He was elected much more comfortably in 2011, in a battle for the same seat with Geraldine O’Donnell of Sinn Féin.

Chances: Will probably win a four way-tussle for the last seat with Julia Kee, a secondary Sinn Féin candidate and a quarternary DUP candidate, thanks to Gerard Diver’s transfers, his year in the sun in 2013, and the inclusion of some SDLP-ish looking territory within the new Waterside DEA.

DUP Drew Thompson

About: The best known and most experienced of the DUP’s candidates, Drew Thompson, has served on Derry City Council since 2005.

He served as Mayor of Londonderry in 2007/8 and is currently the Chairman of the Caw/Nelson Drive Action Group, which offers advice services to the community on Welfare Rights, Housing, Roads and Environmental issues.

Mr Thompson is also heavily involved in local sporting organisations.

Mr Thompson was the odd-man-out in a DUP four candidate strategy in 2001 but it’s likely he will lead the line in a bid to drag his lowest polling colleague onto that seventh seat this year.

Chances: Cert. The best known of the DUP candidates in this election, likely to pick up where Joe Miller and Gregory Campbell left off by topping the poll and dragging one other DUP candidate to over quota and another to within safety not so long thereafter.

UKIP Kyle Thompson

About: The second of two UKIP candidates running in the Waterside this time out, is Kyle Thompson, from the Fountain.

Mr Thompson, as a UKIP organiser, attended a number of flag protests in the city in late 2012 and early 2013.

He complained to the Sentinel at the time that the compulsory coalition at Stormont was undemocratic government as no party can be voted out of power.

He said: “So a vote for the DUP/UUP/Sinn Féin/SDLP/Alliance is a vote for them all.”

He’s a trainee accountant working in the waterside, who received a BSc (Hons) Degree in Accounting from University of Ulster.

He’s also a Treasurer of Clooney Estate Residents Association, a member of the Fountain Forum and also has been involved in a supporting role with Tullyally Community Partnership.

UKIP robustly rejects accusations that it is racist or sectarian. In its local election policy document it advocates a form of direct democracy whereby petitions would be used to prompt referenda on local government policy.

Chances: As a fringe unionist party - albeit something of an unknown quantity - UKIP aren’t likely to poll particularly strongly.

The fringe unionist constituency is around 2.5 per cent of first preferences.

Being generous and artificially boosting this to five per cent for the sake of argument and three fringe unionist/loyalist canididates share 500 first preferences,

 

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