SInn Féin: Michaela Boyle. Barry McElduff. Declan McAleer.Grace McDermott.
DUP: Tom Buchanan. Allan Bresland.
UUP: Ross Hussey.
SDLP: Daniel McCrossan.
Alliance: Stephen Donnelly.
CISTA: Barry Browne.
Conservative: Roger Lomas.
Green: Ciaran McClean.
Animal Welfare: Laura McAnea.
A typical west of the Bann constituency …four nationalist seats (three Sinn Féin and one SDLP) and two unionist seats (one DUP and one UUP).
The major talking points here is the internal divisions which spilled over a few weeks ago when two SDLP councillors resigned from the Party and are standing as Independents…one (Dr Jo Deehan) is Omagh-based and the other (Patsy Kelly) is Strabane-based. As neither has an issue with SDLP policy, the main plank in the platform seems to be to undermine SDLP candidate …Dan McCrossan…who was co-opted to replace Joe Byrne some months ago.
Dr Deehan complains about no female SDLP candidate in the five seats in the west of Norn Iron …but as four of these constituencies are fielding just one candidate, then it as much a statistical blip as anything else. I can understand that Jo Deehan can be disappointed and even angry that she is not a second candidate but there is no use in me pretending that she is more electable than Dan who has revolutionised SDLP in West Tyrone. The result in Westminster last year (a comfortable quota) shows that.
It is of course up to potential SDLP voters to judge whether this is a great issue of principle or pettiness. I expect Dan to be elected, albeit not as quickly as he would have been.
There is a strange mirror image in Sinn Féin. Sorcha McAnespie has resigned from the Party and is standing as an Independent. Sinn Féin have four candidates with three (McElduff, McAleer and Boyle) being outgoing MLAs. No doubt they have re-arranged their vote management strategy to compensate for Ms McAnespie.
There are some minor parties…Green, “Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol” and Alliance but transfers are more likely to benefit SDLP and Sinn Féin than a unionist party.
The two outgoing unionist MLAs (Buchanan DUP and Hussey UUP) are on the ballot paper and the only other serious unionist candidate is Allan Bresland (DUP) who lost his seat to Hussey in 2011.
It is likely Hussey and one of the DUP men will be elected.
Prediction…..Sinn Féin 3, SDLP 1, DUP 1, UUP 1.