Dog fight for last seats in election nobody wanted

editorial image

Sinn Féin, the SDLP and People Before Profit, will go head-to-head for the final seats in Foyle on Thursday as Derry goes to the polls in a Stormont election that nobody really wanted.

One hundred and eight MLAs will reduce to just 90 this time out and six into five in Derry doesn’t go.

Therefore, it would appear that Eamonn McCann and the lowest polling Sinn Féin and SDLP candidates, will be in a dog fight for the final seats.

The last time Derry returned just five members to a regional assembly was in the 1996 Forum Election, when three from the SDLP and two from Sinn Féin were elected from party lists. But that was facilitated by a fractured unionist field which doesn’t exist this time.

Instead, UUP candidate Julia Kee will increase her party’s share on Thursday, but her transfers will ultimately elect the only other mainstream unionist running, Gary Middleton of the DUP.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin (Elisha McCallion and Raymond McCartney) and the SDLP (Mark H. Durkan and Colum Eastwood) are guaranted one seat each but they will probably be in a battle with Eamonn McCann to secure a second. The destination of 3,410 votes won by Anne McCloskey and 902 votes secured by Kathleen Bradley last May, may be decisive. Four hundred and fifteen unionists also transferred from Julia Kee and Maurice Devenney to the SDLP in 2016 and this could be a factor influencing the result this week.