Political landscape changes with pluralist Derry & Strabane Council emerging

New Derry City & Strabane District Councillor Eamonn McCann with People Before Profit party members and supporters.
New Derry City & Strabane District Councillor Eamonn McCann with People Before Profit party members and supporters.

The count has been completed for The Moor and Waterside wards of Derry City & Strabane District Council, with the overall picture of a new, more pluralist local authority now emerging.

There have been many twists and turns so far in the local election, with Sinn Féin losing seats across Derry & Strabane and the SDLP gaining ground in its former Foyle stronghold.

Elected: SDLP Councillor Angela Dobbins with party leader Colum Eastwood.

Elected: SDLP Councillor Angela Dobbins with party leader Colum Eastwood.

But it hasn’t been a tale of two parties, with the shifting sands seeing the DUP losing out in some areas, and bringing Alliance and People Before Profit entering the local arenaCouncil , with both teams polling strongly and managing to take two seats each on the local Council - a ten per cent share of the seats available between them.

Meanwhile Aontú’s candidate in Ballyarnett, Dr Anne McCloskey managed to secure a seat for the Republican pro-life party in Ballyarnett.

Much of the attention on the second day of the count has been focused on The Moor ward, which was hotly contested by some of the most high profile candidates in the city.

Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly again topped the poll and was elected on the first count, followed by veteran civil rights activist Eamonn McCann standing on a People Before Profit ticket.

Newly elected Sinn Fein representatives for The Moor Patricia Logue and  Tina Burke with party colleagues and supporters.

Newly elected Sinn Fein representatives for The Moor Patricia Logue and Tina Burke with party colleagues and supporters.

Sinn Fein retained two of their three seats in the ward, with Councillor Kevin Campbell one of the casualties of what has been a disappointing election for a party which previously held 16 of the 40 seats on the Council. Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue however managed to retain her seat along with running mate and first time candidate Tina Burke.

Mayor of Derry City & Strabane District Council John Boyle was also delighted to be elected to The Moor at the same time as the two Sinn Fein candidates, and will be the first SDLP representative in the heart of Derry constituency for some years. His running mate Cathy Breslin polled strongly but just missed out on taking a second seat for the party.

In the Waterside this evening Alliance candidate Philip McKinney emerged to claim one of the seven seats available in the area, and he will join Rachael Ferguson, who made history yesterday by taking a seat for Alliance in the Faughan ward.

The Alliance victory came at a price for the DUP, with veteran Drew Thompson losing his seat while running mate David Ramsey managed to retain his.

Alliance leader Naomi Long at the count centre in Derry with some of her party's local representatives.

Alliance leader Naomi Long at the count centre in Derry with some of her party's local representatives.

There was more success for the SDLP with its two candidates, former Chamber of Commerce chief executive and first time candidate Sinead McLaughlin, and former Mayor Martin Reilly, both returned.

UUP first time candidate Darren Guy comfortably topped the poll in the Waterside, consolidating his party’s two seats on the Council. He will now take over the reigns from retiring Councillor Mary Hamilton.

Former DUP Mayor Hilary McClintock was also elected back onto the Council early on, while Sinn Féin’s Christopher Jackson also retained his seat.

Turnout in the Waterside was among the lowest across the city and district at 51.82%, but much higher in Sperrin where 61.43% of the electorate cast their votes.

The counts across four of the seven wards that make up Derry City & Strabane District Council were completed by Friday night, with the majority of the seats filled. The Moor and Waterside were not completed until late on Saturday evening, with a tight battle for the final seats in both areas.

A total of 75 candidates stood in the local Council election, hoping to take one of the 40 seats on the Council.

Turnout was markedly higher than was the case back in 2014, indicating greater engagement in politics and issues among the local electorate.

The SDLP has secured gains in its former stronghold with its candidates topping the poll in a number of areas and becoming the dominant party across the six-seat ward of Ballyarnett, talking half the seats, with Sinn Fein dropping a seat here, as well as in Derg, The Moor and Foyleside, while the SDLP itself dropped a seat in Faughan.

The SDLP however gained a seat in Derg, with its candidate Cara Hunter becoming the first female candidate to represent the ward in 21 years.

Sinn Féin meanwhile has also narrowly lost out on retaining its second seat in Foyleside where it came down to the wire between its candidate and former Councillor Eric McGinley and Independent councillor Sean Carr, who have moved from The Moor constituency but managed to emerge victorious after a recount.

The new Derry City & Strabane District Council will see some new parties and many new faces joining those sitting Councillors returned for the next five year term.

Those who have been elected in each ward are:

BALLYARNETT: Angela Dobbins (SDLP), Brian Tierney (SDLP), Sandra Duffy (Sinn Féin), Aileen Mellon (Sinn Féin), Rory Farrell (SDLP), Dr Anne McCloskey (Aontú)

FOYLESIDE: Mary Durkan (SDLP), Shauna Cusack (SDLP), Shaun Harkin (People Before Profit), Mickey Cooper (Sinn Féin) and Sean Carr (Independent).

FAUGHAN: Graham Warke (DUP), Ryan McCready (DUP), Jim McKeever (SDLP), Paul Fleming (Sinn Fein), and Rachel Ferguson (Alliance Party).

DERG: Derek Hussey (UUP), Keith Kerrigan (DUP), Ruairí McHugh (Sinn Fein), Cara Hunter (SDLP), Kieran McGuire (Sinn Féin).

WATERSIDE: Darren Guy (UUP), Hilary McClintock (DUP), Sinead McLaughlin (SDLP). Martin Reilly (SDLP), Christopher Jackson (Sinn Féin), Philip McKinney (Alliance), David Ramsey (DUP)

THE MOOR: Independent Gary Donnelly, (Independent), Eamonn McCann (People Before Profit), Tina Burke (Sinn Féin), John Boyle (SDLP) and Patricia Logue (Sinn Féin).

Sperrin: Allan Bresland, DUP (Ongoing)

BREAKDOWN SO FAR:

SDLP - 10 seats

Sinn Féin - 9 seats

DUP - 6 seats

People Before Profit - Two seats

Alliance - Two seats

Independents - Two seats

UUP - Two seats

Aontú - One seat