Sinn Féin: Conor Murphy. Cathal Boylan. Megan Fearon.
SDLP: Justin McNulty. Karen McKevitt.
DUP: William Irwin.
UUP: Danny Kennedy. Sam Nicholson.
Alliance: Craig Weir.
UKIP: Alan Love.
Green: Michael Watters.
CISTA: Emmet Crossan.
Independent Nationalist: Martin McAllister.
Independent Unionist: Paul Berry.
With 40% of the vote in 2011, Sinn Féin took three seats, Conor Murphy, Cathal Boylan and Micky Brady. Murphy resigned and Megan Fearon was co-opted. Then Micky Brady resigned and Murphy was co-opted again
Micky Brady was elected to Westminster in 2015.
UUP had a pact with DUP in 2015 and Danny Kennedy was the sole unionist candidate and took 32% of the vote.
This “pact” was widely believed to have rallied the nationalist voters around the Sinn Féin candidate. It is widely believed that the 2015 SDLP vote, while a little higher than 2011 is under-stated at 24%. In 2011, SDLP vote management was poor.
Dominic Bradley, outgoing SDLP MLA is retired from Assembly.
Karen McKevitt, outgoing MLA for South Down and Justin McNulty, who stood for Westminster last year are the candidates. Karen is based in Newry and while Justin is also a South Armagh man, he has been allocated the area around Armagh City. He has the advantage of being last year’s candidate and he was a member of the Armagh All-Ireland winning team in 2002, which should bring a lot of votes.
Another South Armagh man, Martin McAllister is running as an Independent but this is more likely to affect Sinn Féin than SDLP.
On the unionist side, Danny Kennedy has a running mate. While this is justified in terms of a high vote in Westminster last year, when loaned votes from DUP are factored in there is still only one quota.
The DUP/Paul Berry competition is more interesting. William Irwin (outgoing DUP MLA) is from Richhill and Berry, a former DUP MLA is based nearby in Tandragee. Effectively they are targeting the same voters but Irwin with the DUP machine behind him is more likely to win out.
Prediction…..SF 2, SDLP 2, UUP 1, DUP 1….conceivably SF could retain three seats with SDLP or DUP losing out.