Issue 1 - 2023 front

12 May 2005 Edition

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Significant gains in local elections

Sinn Féin's Belfast team in jovial mood at the count centre

Sinn Féin's Belfast team in jovial mood at the count centre

The results from last week's local government elections in the Six Counties, which saw Sinn Féin increase it's share of the first preference votes cast and win an extra 18 seats, confirmed the growth of the party and consolidated its position as the largest nationalist party in the Six Counties.

The increase in Sinn Féin's vote sees it holding 126 seats in councils throughout the Six Counties and with candidates winning seats on Ballymena and Coleraine, the party now has a presence on unionist dominated councils where it had none before.

These gains were the highwater mark of an election that also saw Sinn Féin win extra seats in Limavady, Omagh and Strabane. In Belfast, Alex Maskey topped the poll in Laganbank in South Belfast, a ward where the party had never won a seat before.

In a spectacular showing in the five-seater Lower Falls ward in Belfast, Sinn Féin took all five seats, unseating the encumbent SDLP representative Margaret Walsh.

Monica Digney's presence on Ballymena council, the heart of DUP leader Ian Paisley's bible belt constituency and the fact that Sinn Féin topped two out of three wards in nearby Ballymoney, will give cause for concern to unionists, who regard North Antrim as their promised land, where the 'Big Man's' writ has run unchallenged for many years.

Billy Leonard also became the first Sinn Féin councillor to be elected to Coleraine council, having been elected in the Bann Ward, while his wife Valerie had a good showing in the Skerries Ward, where Leonard previously was elected on an SDLP ticket.

Banbridge, another unionist-controlled council, will begin it's new term with a Sinn Féin member after Dessie Ward won a seat in the Knockivagh District.

This increase in seats and percentage will also send out shock waves to those anti-republican elements in the media, as well as Sinn Féin's political opponents, especially those in the British and Dublin Governments whose campaign of vilification and of criminalising the party failed to deliver the anti-Sinn Féin vote they hoped for.

The council election results follows the trend set in the Westminster polls when Sinn Féin voters increased their representation by returning five Sinn Féin MPs, an increase of one after Conor Murphy took the Newry and South Armagh with a massive swing to Sinn Féin.

In all, Sinn Féin made considerable gains mainly at the expense of the SDLP in the local government elections.

Monica Digney created history when Sinn Féin voters elected her in the Bannside area of Ballymena, where she will take her seat in a council on which the DUP displaced the Ulster Unionists.

In Ballymoney, Sinn Féin trebled its representation with Anita Cavlin and Daithí McKay joining sitting councillor and North Antrim Assembly member Philip McGuigan. This was at the expense of the Ulster Unionist Party, which now has no councillors in either the Bushvale or Bann Valley Wards.

In Banbridge, Dessie Ward took a first ever seat for Sinn Féin when he was elected to represent the Knockivagh area.

In Moyle, Sinn Féin made huge gains and increased its share of seats from one to four, up 20.9%. In Limavady, the party now has six seats, an increase of two (up 6.5% on the 2001 vote) while in Strabane Sinn Féin took its total number of seats to eight, an increase of one.

In Mid-Ulster, Sinn Féin became the largest party in Magherafelt when it gained a seat to take its total to eight councillors, while in Dungannon it gained a seat and now sits on nine. Former POWs Ian Milne and Peter Bateson both polled well for the party and will no doubt have many an intense debate in the chamber with the DUP's Reverend William McCrea.

Omagh showed an increase of two seats for Sinn Féin, giving it ten in all, with an increase of 4.2%.

A feature of the election, although still to be fully explored and analysed, is the extent to which the unionists, Alliance and SDLP voted tactically to keep Sinn Féin out.

A clear example of this was in Dunmarry Cross in the election to Lisburn City Council, where Sinn Féin was looking to increase its tally of seats from four to five.

However, the surplus of the last unionist to be elected transferred en masse to the SDLP, which took that party's candidate past Sinn Féin's Mairéad Ní Adhmaill. Deborah Devenny just missed out in the Pottinger Ward in the East of the city due to similar tactical voting.

In Belfast, the party's number of councillors remains 14, despite the clean sweep in the Lower Falls and winning four out of five in Upper Falls.

Former mayor Alex Maskey topped the poll in the Laganbank Ward in South Belfast, while Stiofán Long just failed to get elected in the Balmoral Ward, also in South Belfast.

Despite increasing its share and percentage of votes in Derry, Sinn Féin Mayor Gerry Ó hEára became one of the high-profile candidates to lose his seat.

Although Ó hEára recorded a substantial number of first preference votes, he fell victim to vote management, when party strategists thought his high profile as mayor would be enough to carry him to victory.

A city councillor for 16 years, he will now be replaced by new Sinn Féin councillor Elisha McLaughlin.

Altogether, the Sinn Féin vote held solid in Cookstown, Newry and South Down.

Calling all Six-County PROs and councillors

An Phoblacht does not have photographs of many of our newly-elected councillors across the Six Counties. We would appreciate it if successful candidates or their PROs could forward photographs to our Dublin office ASAP, either by mail to 58 Parnell Square, Dublin 1, or preferably, in jpeg format by email to :

[email protected]

Sinn Féin elected Councillors

• Antrim Borough Council

Henry Cushinan North West

Anthony Brady North West

Gerard Magee Antrim Town

• Armagh District Council

Catherine Rafferty Armagh City

Noel Sheridan Armagh City

Cathal Boylan Crossmore

Paul Corrigan The Orchard

Pat O'Rawe Crossmore

• Ballymena Council

Monica Digney Bannside

• Banbridge Council

Dessie Ward Knockiveigh

• Belfast City Council

Michael Browne Upper Falls

Paul Maskey Upper Falls

Gerard O'Neill Upper Falls

Chrissie MacGiolla Mhín Upper Falls

Janice Austin Lower Falls

Tom Hartley Lower Falls

Fra McCann Lower Falls

Marie Cush Lower Falls

Marie Moore Lower Falls

Danny Lavery Oldpark

Margaret McClenaghan Oldpark

Caral Ní Chuilín Oldpark

Alex Maskey Lagan Bank

Tierna Cunningham Castle

• Ballymoney Council

Philip McGuigan Bann Valley

Daithí McKay Bann Valley

Anita Cavlan Bushvale

• Cookstown District Council

John McNamee Cookstown Central

Pearse McAleer Ballinderry

Michael McIvor Ballinderry

Oliver Molloy Drum Manor

Sean Clarke Drum Manor

• Coleraine Borough Council

Billy Leonard Bann

• Craigavon Council

John O'Dowd Craigavon Central

Maurice Magill Lurgan

Michael Tallon Loughside

Mairead O'Dowd Loughside

Lea Small Loughside

Brian McKeown Portadown

• Derry City Council

Lynn Fleming Waterside

Gerry MacLochlainn Northlands

Billy Page Northlands

Maeve McLaughlin Northlands

Peter Anderson Cityside

Kevin Campbell Cityside

Patricia Logue Cityside

Paul Fleming Rural

Elisha McLaughlin Shantallow

Tony Hassan Shantallow

• Down District Council

Willie Clarke Newcastle

Frank (Hugh) McDowell Newcastle

Eamon McConvey Downpatrick

Liam Johnston Downpatrick

Michael Coogan Ballynahinch

• Dungannon District Council

Francie Molloy Torrent

Michael Gillespie Torrent

Michelle O'Neill Torrent

Dessie Donnelly Torrent

Sean McGuigan Clogher Valley

Colla McMahon Clogher Valley

Phelim Gildernew Blackwater

Michael McLarnon Dungannon Town

Barry Monteith Dungannon Town

• Fermanagh District Council

Thomas O'Reilly Erne East

Ruth Lynch Erne East

Brian McCaffery Erne East

Gerry McHugh Enniskillen

Pat Cox Enniskillen

Stephen Huggett Erne West

Bernice Swift Erne West

Poilin Ui Cathain Erne West

Breege McSorley Erne North

• Limavady Borough Council

Anne Brolly Limavady Town

John McElhiney Bellarena

Gerard Butcher Bellarena

Cathal Hasson Benbradagh

Brenda Chivers Benbradagh

Marion Donaghy Benbradagh

• Lisburn Council

Paul Butler Dunmurray Cross

Michael Ferguson Dunmurray Cross

Veronicia Willis Dunmurray Cross

Angela Nelson Dunmurray Cross

• Magherafelt District Council

Peter Bateson Magherafelt Town

James O'Neil Magherafelt Town

Patsy Groogan Sperrin

Kathleen McEldowney Sperrin

Sean Kerr Sperrin

Hugh Mullan Sperrin

Oliver Hughes Moyola

Ian Milne Moyola

• Moyle District Council

Cara McShane Ballycastle Town

Cathal Newcombe Ballycastle

Oliver McMullan Glens

Marie McKeegan Glens

• Newry and Mourne District Council

Charlie Casey Newry Town

Colman Burns Slieve Gullion

Terry Hearty Slieve Gullion

Packy McDonald Slieve Gullion

Anthony Flynn Slieve Gullion

Brendan Curran Newry Town

Marian Matters Newry Town

Mick Murphy Crotlieve

Michael Ruane Crotlieve

Martin Connolly The Mournes

Brendan Lewis The Fews

Jimmy Mc Creesh The Fews

Pat McGinn The Fews

• Newtownabbey Council

Briege Meehan Antrim Line

• Omagh District Council

Seán Begley Omagh Town

Martin McColgan Omagh Town

Ann Quinn West Tyrone

Frankie Donnelly West Tyrone

Peter Kelly West Tyrone

Barry McElduff West Tyrone

Sean Clarke Mid-Tyrone

Michael McAnespie Mid-Tyrone

Declan McAleer Mid-Tyrone

Sharon O'Brien Mid-Tyrone

• Strabane District Council

Charlie McHugh Derg

Claire McGill Glenelly

Gerard Foley Derg

Kieran McGuire Derg

Jarlath McNulty Mourne

Brian McMahon Mourne

Ivan Barr Mourne

Danny Breslin Mourne

Overall figures

DUP 182 Seats 29.6% Up 52

SF 126 Seats 23.2% Up 18

UUP 115 Seats 18.0% Down 40

SDLP 101 Seats 17.4% Down 16

Alliance 30 Seats 5.0% Up 2

Greens 3 Seats 0.8% Up 3

PUP 2 Seats 0.7% Down 2

UUC 2 Seats 0.3% Up 2

Turnout 63.52% Down 5.0%

• 2001 comparison, Sinn Féin, 21%, 108 Seats

By Constituency

Council seats Up/Down % share +/-%

Antrim 3 +1 14.8 +2.0

Ards 0 0 1.1 0

Armagh 5 0 23.1 +2.5

Ballymena 1 +1 7.6 +6.3

Ballymoney 3 +2 20.0 +8.5

Banbridge 1 +1 6.3 +2.6

Belfast 14 0 30.6 +2.2

Carrickfergus 0 0 0 0

Council seats Up/Down % share +/-%

Castlereagh 0 0 1.5 -0.3

Coleraine 1 +1 7.9 0

Cookstown 5 -1 33.5 -1.9

Craigavon 6 +2 22.4 +1.1

Derry 10 0 32.8 +2.5

Down 5 +1 23.1 +5.9

Dungannon 9 +1 39.6 +3.6

Fermanagh 9 0 37.4 +4.0

Larne 0 0 3.8 +0.2

Council seats Up/Down % share +/-%

Limavady 6 +2 31.3 +6.5

Lisburn 4 0 16.7 +0.7

Magherafelt 8 +1 46.7 +2.5

Moyle 4 +3 30.4 +20.9

Newry & Mourne 13 0 42.1 +2.9

Newtownabbey 1 0 5.9 +0.9

North Down 0 0 0 0

Omagh 10 +2 44.6 +4.2

Strabane 8 +1 41.8 +1.6


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