Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Constituency profile: East Londonderry

WHAT’S THE STORY?

This constituency stretches along the north coast from Porballantrae and stops just on the outskirts of Londonderry. The constituency is nearly 60% Protestant.

Boundary changes have given it the predominantly nationalist Banagher and Claudy wards from Foyle and nationalists now have two-and-a-half quotas but just two seats.

There have been changes. The UUP dumped David McClarty, its successful candidate, who is running as an independent. On the Sinn Fein side Francie Brolly, who took the seat last time, retired mid-term, while Billy Leonard, selected to succeed him, resigned from the party.

RUNNERS AND RIDERS

The pre-election rows within the UUP, and to a lesser extent Sinn Fein, coupled with the boundary changes open up the field.

Mr McClarty, a Coleraine insurance broker, has a high-profile. On the other hand his UUP successor Leslie Macaulay is the sort of young female candidate who could bring in different votes and she is clearly popular with local party workers.

However with them both running there is a squeeze on the unionist vote.

It would take a miracle for both of them plus three DUP to get elected.

Sinn Fein will be hoping for a second seat for Cathal Ó hOisín and Bernadette Archibald. Alliance’s Barney Fitzpatrick, a former police officer and popular local councillor whose vote has been steadily increasing, will be hoping for a winning bounce from his party’s recent successes.

The SDLP is also running Thomas Conaway in addition to John Dallat in the hope of picking off a unionist seat.

VERDICT

The DUP has allowed Gregory Campbell, the local MP and regular poll-topper, to double-job here.

Its third seat is vulnerable, it was only elected on the 9th count, but Campbell’s transfers will probably hold.

Dallat and Ó hOisín look safe. If Macaulay is elected then there will be no nationalist gain.

There is a chance that an extra half a nationalist quota could end up transferring to Alliance and pushing Fitzpatrick ahead of the last DUP candidate, so there is a possible Alliance gain here, but since he had less than half a quota in 2010, it’s a big ask. The prediction must be that, despite all the drama, the line-up in this constituency will remain the same with three DUP, one UUP, one Sinn Fein and one SDLP.

OUTGOING MEMBERS OF THE ASSEMBLY

(Asterisk denotes they are running again)

*Gregory Campbell MP (DUP)

*Francie Brolly (SF)

*George Robinson (DUP)

*David McClarty (UUP)

*Adrian McQuillan (DUP)

*John Dallat (SDLP)

2010 share of the vote compared to 2007

DUP 34.6% (39.8%)

Sinn Fein 19.3% (20%)

UCUNF/UUP 17.8% (18.5%)

SDLP 15.5% (13.1%)

TUV 7.4% (didn’t stand)

Alliance 5.5% (4.1%)

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