Constituency profile: Foyle
Number crunchers looking at the Foyle constituency will have already worked out that this could be the year that Sinn Fein takes this seat from the SDLP, which has held it since 1983.
Despite a reduction in the number of candidates vying for the unionist vote — which will increase DUP candidate Gary Middleton’s vote — this will still be a two-horse race between Mark Durkan (SDLP) and Elisha McCallion (Sinn Fein).
Ms McCallion shook the foundations of the Foyle Arena count centre in March by topping the Assembly election poll with 9,205 first preference votes. She was closely followed by her running mate Raymond McCartney with over 7,000 votes, leaving the SDLP candidates, party leader Colum Eastwood and Mark H Durkan, in their wake.
If the party can garner supporters to vote for Mrs McCallion in the same volume, Mr Durkan (below) will have a real fight on his hands. On the face of it, Mr Durkan enjoyed a handsome victory in 2015 with 17,725 votes — 6,000 more than Sinn Fein’s Gearoid O hEara — but the Assembly election proves Foyle is no longer the SDLP safe seat it was.
Even the absence of an Ulster Unionist candidate, as well as UKIP and NI Conservatives, will do nothing to improve Middleton’s chances of being elected for the DUP.
Unionist voters have long ago realised that the demographics of this constituency mean no unionist candidate will be elected and so many chose to use their vote tactically to keep Sinn Fein out.
Alliance is fielding John Doherty as its candidate but there is little appetite for the party in this constituency, where it polled just 835 votes in 2015, with People Before Profit’s Shaun Harkin unlikely to fair any better.
John Doherty (Alliance)
Mark Durkan (SDLP)
Shaun Harkin (People Before Profit)
Elisha McCallion (Sinn Fein)
Gary Middleton (DUP)