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Constituency profile: Foyle

WHAT’S THE STORY?

A total of 12 candidates have put themselves forward for election in the overwhelmingly nationalist constituency of Foyle, which has an electorate of 68,565.

Named after the river that runs through Derry, Foyle constituency boundaries run from the edge of the city to the border with the Republic, across Craigavon and Foyle bridges to the Waterside, and the rural village of Eglinton.

This marks a redrawn boundary for the constituency as a result of Derry's population growth, with Claudy and Banagher wards becoming part of the neighbouring East Londonderry constituency.

The new constituency is now 0.3% more Catholic and 0.3% less Protestant, which translates into a community background breakdown of 75.37% Catholic, 23.02% Protestant and other Christians, 0.35% other religions and 1.09% no religion. Before the Executive was dissolved for the election Foyle’s six MLAs were the SDLP’s Mary Bradley, Pat Ramsey and Pol Callaghan, who was co-opted following Mark Durkan's withdrawal, Sinn Fein’s Martina Anderson and Raymond McCartney, and the DUP’s William Hay, who was Stormont Speaker.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

For the majority of the candidates in Foyle this is the first time they have sought election with only Anderson, Hay, McCartney and Ramsey having stood before.

Eamonn McCann did once seek election under the banner of Social Environmental Alliance, while this time around he is the candidate for People Before Profit.

The new names on the ballot paper include the SDLP’s Callaghan, Mark H Durkan and Colum Eastwood, independents Terry Doherty and Paul McFadden, Sinn Fain’s Paul Fleming, and Keith McGrellis of Alliance.

Mary Bradley from the SDLP announced her retirement from politics earlier this year after many years of service to Foyle as both a local councillor and in the Assembly as an MLA.

VERDICT

Last time around in 2007 Hay from the DUP topped the poll with 6969 (17%) of the total valid votes cast, which was 41,036, with a required quota of 5,863.

Sinn Fein had hoped to overtake the SDLP at the 2007 election but did not quite manage it.

However, the two independents, former BBC Radio Foyle anchor McFadden and Doherty could upset the applecart depending on the percentage of the turnout, making Foyle a constitu ency worth watching.

The north west generally has the highest levels of unemployment in Northern Ireland, according to Government statistics, but in the Foyle constituency the figures are highest with five per cent of the population registered as unemployed compared to the Northern Ireland average of 4.3%, so this will be a key issue for the voters.

The big shock in Foyle was the failure of the UUP to field any candidate for the Assembly for the first time.

OUTGOING MEMBERS OF THE ASSEMBLY

(Asterisk denotes they are running again)

*Martina Anderson (SF) 5414 (13.2%)

Mary Bradley (SDLP) 2891 (7.0%)

Pol Callaghan (SDLP) co -opted to Mark Durkan’s seat

*William Hay (DUP) 6960 (17%)

*Raymond McCartney (SF) 4321 (10.5%)

*Pat Ramsey (SDLP) 3242 (7.9%)

2010 SHARE OF THE VOTE COMPARED TO 2007

SDLP 44.7% (37.0%)

Sinn Fein 31.9% (30.8%)

DUP 11.9% (17.0 %)

Alliance 0.6% (0.5%)

People Before Profit 7.8%

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