District Councils: A Guide

I start to write this at 9am Friday.
Just as the ballot boxes are being opened in “count centres” across Norn Iron.
The District Council Election Count takes place today and tomorrow. The Euro Count takes place on Monday.
The first stage is the verification of the ballot papers.
Representatives of the main parties…the “tally men” (and women) will be straining their eyes to get a clue as to how the voting has gone. The tally men will be armed woth clip boards and have information from their (always optimistic) door knocking canvas. Does it all match up?
Nervous text messages. “Not as good as we thought in Ballymena”, “Holding our own in Newry” and “better than we thought in Lisburn”.
The Longest Day. And we all do it again tomorrow. And Monday.

The odd thing is that there has been reform of the District Councils. Their very limited powers have been extended. But the key thing is that the 26 Councils have been reformed into just eleven “Super Councils”.
This means that the actual number of councillors will be lower and it means that councils have been amalgamated.
Belfast for example has been enlarged bringing in parts of Castlereagh and parts of Lisburn.
Nationalists will outvote unionists in Belfast but the Alliance Party will still hold the balance of power in a hung Council.

Six of the remaining ten councils will be dominated by unionists….Causeway, Central Antrim, Lisburn-Castlreagh, Antrim-Newtownabbey, North Down and Armagh-Banbridge-Craigavon.

This is bad news for the small Moyle Council, a small nationalist leaning council now subsumed into Causeway Council with unionist dominated Coleraine and Ballymoney. And its bad news for nationalists in the current, balanced and enlightened Armagh Council, now to be dominated by the bigots in Craigavon and Banbridge.
Nationalists have always had a preference for power-sharing. Unionists have a preference for majority rule.

The remaining four amalgamations will be nationalist dominated. Derry-Strabane, Fermanagh-Omagh, Mid Ulster and Downpatrick-Newry.

So….at 9.15am those tally men (and women!)will be gettong their first clues.

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