Danny McCloskey and Daniel Comer of the Alliance Party were the only unionist choices available to thousands of Protestant electors living on the cityside of Londonderry in the recent Derry and Strabane local government elections.
The last census revealed that there were 3,169 Protestants living in households across the whole of Londonderry’s west bank (just 5 per cent), which means over 2,000 Protestant voters would have been entitled to vote in the local elections.
And there are large concentrations in several areas including Culmore (464), Strand (434), Crevagh (383), Foyle Springs (234), Rosemount (206) and Shantallow West (198).
However, those Protestant voters - and those Catholic voters - who would have liked to have given their first preference to a unionist candidate were only afforded the unionist-lite option of Alliance. It’s now 13 years since William Temple stood as an Independent in Northland, where he polled 407 first preferences and 17 years since William Dougherty polled 134 first preferences for the DUP in Shantallow.
Last week the former Deputy Chair of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Terry Wright asked if unionism had abandoned the westbank for good.
Mr Wright - a member of the NI Conservatives asked: “Is unionism, as represented by the main parties, now merely tribal and communal and content to abandon the electorate of some areas of the city?
“Is unionism for Londonderry but not Derry? In the light of prevailing evidence this seems a valid conclusion and seems to point to a unionism wishing only to talk to itself and a throw-back to the genetic profiling of ‘ marked’ registers.’”