Profile: West Belfast

Sinn Féin: Jennifer McCann. Fra McCann. Rosie McCorley. Pat Sheehan. Alex Maskey.
SDLP: Alex Attwood.
People Before Profit: Gerry Carroll.
DUP: Frank McCoubrey.
UUP: Gareth Martin.
Alliance: Jemima Higgins.
Green:Ellen Murray.
Workers Party: Conor Campbell.

All the outgoing MLAs (five Sinn Féin and one SDLP) are standing for re-election.
Sinn Féin polled over 70% but “only” 54% in 2015.
The one certainty is that Gerry Carroll who polled 6,800 votes will be elected and have a surplus to transfer.
The combined unionist vote is unlikely to add up to a quota.
If Carroll takes a seat, then it means one outgoing MLA loses out. The SDLP vote (allowing for an Eastwood bounce) is probably just over 4,000 votes. With transfers from Carroll who is likely to top the poll, Alex Attwood should make it.
So Sinn Féin are likely to lose a seat here. Just which one of their MLAs will be re-cycled to earn the average industrial wage in another part of the Sinn Féin machine is open question…but Sheehan has the weakest “territory” and vote management has been adjusted. My own feeling is that Fra McCann will lose out.
Certainly Sinn Féin are throwing everything into the campaign, reminding the voters that all five candidates are ex republican prisoners but I am not entirely sure that even the Felons Club are interested.
Of more immediate concern is Welfare cuts (an issue that SF sent back to Westminster), cuts to services such as Day Centres for vulnerable people (SDLP and PBP have been more consistent protestors than SF) and the general neglect of the area.
Prediction…Sinn Féin 4, SDLP 1, PBP 1……and a lot of alleged intimidation at polling stations.

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4 Responses to Profile: West Belfast

  1. Vince says:

    I think that SF will lose a seat here but it won’t be Fra McCann. Gerry Carroll will surpass the quota on the first count – not the 19% of last year but certainly >15%. There is probably ~ 12% Unionist vote. The other person at risk is Alex Attwood – he is intelligent, competent and was on the right side of the welfare debate but he is not a vote-getter. He needs to be ahead of the DUP candidate throughout the process – if he has 10% on the first count he is safe, anything < 9% and it could be curtains. Not sure how well UUP will transfer to DUP here though.
    There are a number of drags for SF here – the uninspiring slate of candidates, the Casement debacle and the handing back of Welfare to the Tories.

  2. Vince says:

    In 2014 in the Blackmountain district local election, ~75% of the Carroll surplus went to the SDLP rather than the remaining SF candidates. This was much higher than the transfer to SDLP when he was eliminated in the 2011 Assembly election, which may confirm your point.

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